Friday, April 24, 2020

Columbus Crew lays off staff

Posting this via Columbus, Ohio portal.

With MLS season postponed, Columbus Crew lays off staff, cuts pay

By Hayleigh Colombo – Staff reporter, Columbus Business First

Apr 24, 2020, 5:04pm EDT Updated Apr 24, 2020, 6:32pm EDT

Dozens of Columbus Crew SC staffers will receive temporary pay cuts starting next month because of financial hardships caused by the suspension of the Major League Soccer season.

The Crew has also laid off 11 sales staff members, or 12% of its full-time workforce of 90 people, according to a source with knowledge of the team, and has also instituted a hiring freeze. Seven of the 11 people laid off were temporary workers.

The team is owned by billionaires Jimmy and Dee Haslam, who also own the Cleveland Browns, as well as local orthopedic surgeon and longtime team physician Pete Edwards and his family. The Crew does not release its revenue, but Forbes estimates it to be about $18 million annually.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted all of our lives, including every business and sporting organization across the country," Crew General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko said in a statement. "In light of this environment, it has become evident that matches played in front of fans are unlikely in the immediate future based on local and national health restrictions. This has forced us to make some extremely difficult decisions that we do not take lightly and are not reflective of the quality of the affected individuals or the magnitude of their contributions."

The pay cut applies to less than half of the Crew's employees. More than half of the employees will not be subject to pay cuts because their earnings are not high enough, according to the source. The salary reductions will be between 10% to 20% of a staff member's salary, with higher-paid staffers taking bigger cuts.

The Crew's decision does not affect players, who are unionized. However, the MLS Players' Association is currently in negotiations with the MLS over a "drastic" pandemic-related salary cut, ESPN reported last week.

The Crew is not alone in its cost-cutting moves, which are occurring shortly after MLS' announcement that play will not resume until June 8 at the earliest. MLS team Real Salt Lake announced job and salary cuts earlier this month. And D.C. United has furloughed some of its workers.

The Crew's salary reduction will be reevaluated in the fall, with the reductions likely reversed if the Crew is able to start playing again with audiences, the source said.

The reduction of 11 sales staffers comes as a result of the Crew's decision to create efficiencies between its Crew sales staff and the staff at Legends, a New York-based planning, sales and hospitality agency. The Crew and Legends inked a deal in 2019 for Legends to handle commercial sales rights for the team's planned Arena District stadium.

That sales staff reduction had been a previously planned decision, but the move has been "accelerated" as a result of the challenging environment, Bezbatchenko said in the statement.

Crew staff members learned about the cost-saving moves Friday.

"Throughout this period, our staff has continued to be tremendous in managing adversity caused by this virus, and we appreciate their resilience," Bezbatchenko said in the statement. "During this challenging time, our thoughts continue to go out to all those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in our community and across the world.”

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