Here's my story from today's paper on what Sounders majority owner Joe Roth had to say yesterday about a possible MLS players strike next week.
And here a few quotes from Roth that didn't make the paper:
"This league is a baby. It’s a 15-year-old league that that was set up I think brilliantly (by its founders) and survives. Soccer has had many efforts – and I’ve been around for some of there as a fan – where crazy spending on players have caused the league to go down at least twice. These gentlemen set up at least a system for survival knowing that there are an awful lot of sports in America and this is going to take time. These guys and other owners like them have invested tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars in trying to make soccer a viable sport in America."
"Now what’s happened in the last year or two is that two of the franchises – Toronto and Seattle – actually look like first-tier sports and in fact are profitable. That’s two out of 15. It doesn’t excuse all of the money that’s been lost up to now in trying to set up a framework that works. So the part of it that’s infuriating is that the threat of the strike comes at a time in the country when everybody is taking a haircut, where unemployment is at least 10 percent … real estate values aren’t what they were, so the new collective bargaining agreement is not about a rollback. I guess I’ll just say it first: A mediator is in there and in the first couple of days of mediation all of the lifestyle issues and issues of dignity were hashed out and the owners compromised and the players were heard can came to agreement on those issues."
"But (Sounders ownership) ponied up our $30 million and put money in for players and put money in for stadium improvements; we came in based on a system that had been put into place. And for the players to choose this point in time – both in terms of the economy at large and the economy of MLS – seems completely misplaced. And the idea that the way to solve it is to go on strike is misguided, I guess somewhat romantic, but a terrible idea."
"It seems like as difficult as it is the only way that this can come to a conclusion that is a good one is across a bargaining table in which some pain is felt by the owners and some pain is felt by the players."
"We don’t get big ratings on television and a lot of the teams don’t have great attendance. It’s hard work and there’s been a lot of hard work put in the last 15 years. Which is not to say the players haven’t put in a lot of hard work. They should be hand in hand in the fact that things look better now than they did five years ago. That doesn’t mean that you go from Point A to Point Z. I think that’s what’s happening right now."