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EXCLUSIVE: United Soccer League to furlough staff amid Covid-19 shutdown

(Credit: USL)

The United Soccer League has become the latest major sports organization in North America to furlough its employees amid the Covid-19 shutdown, SportBusiness can reveal.

According to a highly-placed source, “some” employees at the USL head office in Tampa, Florida, have been furloughed. The staff members do not work at the professional USL Championship or USL League One levels, the source added, but primarily at the non-professional USL League Two and Super Y League youth levels.

The league is committed to paying both the employer and employee portion of healthcare costs while staff members are furloughed. There are no plans at present for any additional furloughs or pay cuts.

The move comes as USL Championship club Memphis 901 has both laid off and furloughed its staff, while North Carolina FC has reportedly placed over a dozen employees on unpaid furlough.

The USL is currently suspended until May 10 due to the ongoing health crisis, though this is likely to be extended soon. The vast majority of team owners are not inclined to play behind closed doors if and when the Championship and League One can resume activities, the source added, due to the reliance on matchday revenues as a source of income.

The USL, though, has remained active amid the coronavirus shutdown. The organization recently secured ESPN distribution for the new Rocket League esports competition it has created to help fill the void.

The USL eCup: Rocket League Edition is a month-long tournament that is being participated in by 32 teams from across the organization’s professional ranks. ESPN is the domestic broadcast partner of the USL.

Elsewhere in professional soccer, the vast majority of Major League Soccer head office staff, including commissioner Don Garber, are taking enforced pay cuts due to the league’s shutdown.

Meanwhile, MLS club Real Salt Lake announced on April 7 that it also is reducing staff, furloughing other employees, and cutting pay of its executives and staff as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is obviously a distressing outcome as we deeply value and appreciate each of our employees,” a club statement read.

Read this: USL celebrates 10th season, aspiring to be a global top-10 league