MLS losses surpass $1 Billion due to Covid Pandemic

After a challenging year that saw Major League Soccer having to put on hold its 2020 season, the league’s commissioner has stated that the pandemic’s impact on the league is far greater than they initially had anticipated.

Commissioner of the MLS, Don Garber has confirmed through media outlets that the combined losses in annual revenue to teams in the league has now surpassed almost $1 billion US. Like many other sports leagues, the MLS was forced to suspend their season in March due to the pandemic. After only playing two weeks of their season, the league was on hiatus until July when it returned for a bubble tournament in Florida after the state began allowing sports leagues to stage games.

Return of regular season

It wasn’t until August before the MLS was able to resume their regular season. That resulted in a reduced schedule that the 26 teams that make up the league playing a reduced schedule of 23 to 23 games versus the usual 34.

While the league was able to resume its season, it wasn’t able to allow fans to attend games and that impacted its overall revenue earning capabilities. However, the operational costs remained the same, and that further reduced the revenue available to MLS franchise.

In addition to the league being impacted, most employees saw a reduction in their salaries as of April. Furthermore, the league had to lay off twenty percent of its full-time employees working out of its headquarters in New York as a cost savings measure.

During his annual state of address, Garber stated that the impact is most likely greater than we anticipated. Garber added that as a league we are concerned, but that team owners have been understanding since the beginning.

Garber further elaborated that revenue for the league and its 26 clubs is down close to $1 billion in comparison to last year. This was further impacted by unforeseen costs and the added burden of clubs having to charter air transportation and ensure organizational safety when travelling for scheduled matches.

On a positive note, it is expected that the 2021 season will get underway in March and is expected to see each club playing their usual 34 games per season. Whether it will include the return of fans will be dependant on the course of the pandemic and whether it is safe to allow gatherings of large groups.