With everything that has gone on with Real Salt Lake, Real Monarchs, and the Utah Royals since Wednesday night when RSL and LAFC players chose not to play their match in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, there is a good chance you haven't been able to keep up with everything happening on social media.
The Soapbox team has done a great job covering a lot of important stories, and you can check out all of the updates here if you haven't already.
Now with Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber, along with Dell Loy Hansen announcing that he will be selling Utah Soccer Holdings (who I will refer to as Utah Soccer going forward), the entity that owns RSL, the Monarchs, and the Royals, we are waiting for an announcement of the new owner(s). My goal is to let you know who some of Utah Soccer’s potential suitors are based off of publicly known information (mostly just Twitter) so that you can speculate for yourself on who might be the newest members of the RSL family.
That doesn't mean I won’t do some speculating here myself though. It’s kind of fun.
I’ll start off by saying that according to Spencer Warne in an interview with KSL Sports, there are four groups who are interested in buying. There have not, however been four publicly established groups. As far as I’ve seen, the only groups that have claimed interest officially are the Larry H. Miller Trust group, headed by Gail Miller, and Jozy Altidore’s investment group that he said was ready to buy the team last Thursday.
The “Jozy Group”
He needs to sell the team then. I’m involved in a group that’s ready to purchase it. Time for change. https://t.co/ETiM3YUyxr— Jozy Altidore (@JozyAltidore) August 27, 2020
Jozy Altidore, current U.S. National Team and Toronto FC forward, was one of the first people who publicly showed interest in buying RSL. The details of who is involved in his group have not been made public, but they could include familiar names in American soccer.
Nick Rimando’s partner posted a picture of him on the phone with Jozy on Saturday to Instagram, possibly suggesting Nick’s involvement in the group. Another possible part of Altidore’s group are the duo known as the Men in Blazers, Roger Bennett and Michael Davies, who are popular comedic “soccah” analysts on NBCSN.
They responded to Altidore’s tweet saying that they “will buy in.” This would be a particularly interesting addition to ownership as Davies is the president/CEO of Embassy Row, a New York based digital production company that produces television shows ranging from Who Wants To Be A Millionaire to Beat Bobby Flay. Bennett is also a producer who amongst other projects, worked with NBC to create a documentary about Leicester City’s 2015-16 English Premier League title. I can see his RSL documentary now: “Real Salt Lake: The Rise, The Fall, and Rebirth.”
We will buy in Jozy. Team is worth $27 without Kyle Beckerman or $500 million with Kyle Beckerman. I say we go all in— Men in Blazers (@MenInBlazers) August 27, 2020
Another, more interesting development with the “Jozy Group” is CEO/co-founder of Qualtrics, Ryan Smith. Smith responded to Twitter user Michael Henriod’s comment on Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell’s tweet supporting RSL players with a simple “they got my number.”
I’m in.... they got my number— Ryan Smith (@RyanQualtrics) August 27, 2020
While it wasn’t clear at the time if he had an independent offer or was wanting to join a group, yesterday evening Altidore responded to Smith’s tweet with “let’s get to work,” possibly suggesting that Smith is with Altidore’s investment group as well.
These series of tweets might also suggest Donovan Mitchell may be a part of this group as well, but there is no solid information that supports this idea.
The “Jozy Group” has been reported to have legitimate interest in buying Utah Soccer by several sources including Jake Simons of “The RSL Show” and Jeff Carlisle of ESPN.
Piece has been updated to reflect that Jozy Altidore's interest (and that of the investor group he's joined forces with) in #RSL is real. Whether that will be enough to beat out any local bids is still TBD. https://t.co/BC1g40aQ3m— Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle) August 31, 2020
Larry H. Miller Group
The Miller family are no stranger to Utah Sports as they've owned the Jazz since 1986. Gail Miller, widow of Larry H. Miller, currently is the head of the Larry H. Miller Trust and has reported ability and interest of taking over operations at Utah Soccer.
FWIW, I know from previous conversations that if MLS take the team from Dell Loy Hansen, LHM would feel confident in its ability to step in and take over operations.— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) August 27, 2020
Now, what that would look like is another question. A Clippers-esque buyout? We could find out.
Things may not have played out exactly as Andy Larsen tweeted on Thursday, but there is still reported interest from the Millers to buy Utah Soccer.
As far as my research is concerned, these are the only publicly established groups vying to buy Utah Soccer from Dell Loy Hansen. The other names in this section are people who might be connected to one of the previously mentioned groups, or part of a completely different group. Basically, there’s not enough evidence to connect the dots on my conspiracy theory wall when it comes to these people.
First up is NFL star JJ Watt. As RSL Soapbox reported yesterday, Watt is interested in Utah Royals ownership, though it is not clear if he is a part of any established group yet. Former NFL player Jacob Hester also joined in on Twitter, expressing interest in investing with Watt.
Same ♂️!— Jacob Hester (@JacobHester18) August 30, 2020
Far Out Speculation
Now here is the fun part. This is where I go farther away from established and clear intentions to firmly putting my conspiracy theory hat on.
Herculez Gomez, former USMNT and MLS player, replied to Watt’s tweet saying “let’s make it happen.” While he might just be referring to Watt’s desire to own the Royals and promote women’s soccer, he did say “let’s” as in let US. Who knows, he could be part of the “Jozy Group.”
The idea of including fan ownership has also been thrown around, and while that would be very interesting and exciting, there is no evidence that fan ownership is part of any current bid. However, Fan Owned Club, the group that is currently offering fan ownership in FC Pinzgau in Austria has stated on their website that they hope to bring fan ownership to other professional sports teams in the future. They also have links to Utah. It might be a little too soon in their development as a corporation to get involved in a project the size of Utah Soccer.
Looking back at the “Jozy Group,” the inclusion of the Men in Blazers duo could open some interesting doors to investment. The duo has relationships with many different sports and pop culture celebrities that have come on their show to talk about their love of soccer, including John Oliver, Mike Myers, James Corden, Steve Kerr, Diego Luna, and Diplo just to name a few. If they are really involved in Altidore’s group, it would be interesting to see if any of those celebrities could be involved.
Finally, it’s time for the “this celebrity has Utah connections so that means they are obviously interested in owning three soccer teams” category. Since each of these people have some levels of Utah connections according to Wikipedia and my knowledge of pop culture, so I think it’s safe to include their names on my conspiracy theory wall as well:
Steve Young, Post Malone, Donny Osmond, Brandon Flowers, Shawn Bradley, John Huntsman Jr, Mitt Romney, Brandon Sanderson, Brendon Urie, Dan Reynolds, Chrissy Teigen, Mark Rober, Halsey, Justin Bieber, and Taylor Swift, just to name a few.
Then there’s Mr. Beast and Elon Musk. Who knows, they might just be crazy enough to do something like this.