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March 16, 2010 at 11:40 AM

Sounders FC majority owner Joe Roth speaks out on labor dispute

I had the chance to speak over the phone with Joe Roth about the ongoing labor dispute in Major League Soccer. Most importantly, he said a player strike to ultimately be the end of MLS.
He opened his comments by comparing the situation to the writers strike in Hollywood a couple years ago, of which he said “everyone suffered.” Said he’s been a part of 3-4 similar situations and all of them ended badly.
He went on to describe MLS as a “baby” league, just 15 years old and with only two profitable teams: Seattle and Toronto. The league’s structure, he said, is also what has drawn many of the owners, and their deep pockets, to the league.
Roth said if the players view the expired CBA as a “1” then they are asking for a “10” and said the players are “way ahead of the reality.”
Said the threat of a strike only makes things worse and he’s pessimistic of having any deal done in the near future. Resolution will come at the negotiating table and nowhere else, and both sides need to take a hit. Improvement need to be little by little, step by step.
In a World Cup year the attention on the sport will be very high in the country and MLS is gaining traction, so the timing is bad.
Emphasized what the owners have done for the league. How they’ve been able to accept the financial loss in the current set up, but might not be so willing if the structure completely changes.
Said with Seattle’s facilities and the money around and in the club, he can’t imagine a Sounders FC player thinking they’ve been treated unfairly.
“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done,” Roth said.
These are just scattered thoughts in the immediate fallout, I’ll obviously have more throughout the day.

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