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Garber: MLS will take $1bn financial hit from Covid-19

MLS commissioner Don Garber (Credit: Getty Images)

Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber has said he expects the league to take a $1bn revenue hit due to the devastating economic impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

MLS has been on indefinite suspension since mid-March after just two rounds of action in the 2020 season. However, the league is close to announcing the details of a quarantined summer tournament at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.

It comes after the MLS Players Association agreed to a return-to-play proposal, avoiding a potential lockout, following tense, last-minute negotiations with the league.

“Major League Soccer will take a billion-dollar revenue hit due to the pandemic,” Garber told reporters. “And that’s a function of lost revenue, that regardless of what we’re able to do, is going to be nearly impossible to generate at the levels that we need.

“When we lose the ability to sell tickets and we lose the ability to have any hospitality and other gameday stadium revenues…today that is on hold. And we really don’t know what it’s going to look like, going forward,” Garber said.

In April, Seattle Sounders majority owner Adrian Hanauer said MLS teams could potentially lose billions of dollars as a result of the coronavirus crisis. “The losses at the team level in MLS will be astronomical. Hundreds of millions, billions, really big numbers,” Hanauer said.

As a result, the league has been eager to salvage its 2020 season to mitigate financial losses. In addition, the MLS All-Star Game, Leagues Cup and Campeones Cup have been called off. There also remains much doubt as to whether the US Open Cup and Concacaf Champions League will be able to take place.

MLS president Mark Abbott said the league is aiming to finish the 2020 season in late December but added that playoff games could be staged in early 2021 if necessary.

According to Morning Consult, ESPN will produce all the games at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando and, in turn, provide MLS broadcast partners Fox Sports and Univision with feeds of the games they are assigned to televise.