“Has the dust fallen and settled? Not even close.”

Brian Dunseth on the fall out at Real Salt Lake.

On last week’s Footy Talks Live, KJ and Stevie spoke out against Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen’s outrageous comments, in the wake of his team’s decision to postpone their fixture following Jacob Blake’s shooting in Wisconsin.

Fast forward one week and the fall out has been huge, with the MLS stepping and seeking new ownership for the club. In a fascinating behind the scenes exploration, local analyst Brian Dunseth took us to the heart of the story at the Rio Tinto stadium, and warned that the dust is far from settled…

“I think it was inevitable at some point because the whispers since Dell Loy’s involvement have been there. I think everyone has heard some story across the amount of time that he’s been either the owner or co-owner of Real Salt Lake.” 

“Big picture, this is nothing short of horrifying. A lot of things had to come together in this butterfly effect moment. It was the pandemic, the decision to furlough Andy Williams, [and then] not to bring back Andy Willimas. Then you have what happened with Jacob Blake in Wisconsin. Then you have the MBA and the Milwaukee Bucks refusing to play. All the NBA teams then boycott game 5 of the playoffs down in Orlando. Then it leads to outside of that game in Orlando, Atlantic City against Nashville, the other five games last Wednesday end up boycotting as well. There were supposed to be 5000 people inside the stadium for Real Salt Lake and LA FC, and I watched Mark-Anthony Kay on social media on the day leading up to the event, and I watched him walk in with Jordan Harvey who was the MLS players rep to meet with Nedum Onuoha and Zack McMath the MLS players rep for Real Salt Lake, and I could tell immediately this game wasn’t going to happen.” 

“Nedum came on air. He did a phenomenal job, and I want to give credit to everybody who has a voice that doesn’t only go on camera when things are going well. Nedum did a phenomenal job, I texted him immediately and I said please come on camera and explain, because I cannot explain these conversations, I cannot explain the decisions and I’d love to give you a platform. So both he and Mark Anthony Kay came on and did a phenomenal job expressing everything that had transpired over really about six hours.”

“Fast forward to the following day. Dell Loy Hansen goes on one of his radio stations, that he owns out here in Utah, and instead of starting with ‘I understand the players, I support my players, I give them credit for standing up with what they believe in’ – it was quite the opposite. It was more of a business angle. It was talking about lost revenue, it was talking about lost sponsorship. It was talking about having to fire people from the RSL foundation which is the foundation arm that does incredible stuff. Using quotes like ‘I’m profoundly offended.’ Using analogies like ‘I’ve been stabbed in the chest and slowly pulling the sword out’ – and that didn’t go over well.” 

“That was a 9AM local call. Fast forward to the afternoon and to a kind of weird poetic justice, because the man that he wrestled the cub away from Dave Checketts, went on his son’s show on ESPN and tried to roll back all of these conversations and all of these statements and he got emotional and choked up. But I thought at that point maybe there was a way to figure out a way to get [Hansen] in front of the team, figuring out a way to publicly continue this. But that’s what Andy Williams had had enough. And Andy Williams put his voice to his experiences in The Athletic.”

“[Local journalists] catalogued a lot of different experiences and I give an unbelievable amount of credit to the people that have put their voices to their stories. Because I think for a lot of us, there was such a tangled web inside of the silo of Real Salt Lake from top to bottom […] There’s so many back-breakers in this conversation. But I think one of the most horrifying was the conversation surrounding the NWSL players on Utah Royals and those who [Hansen] deemed good enough to promote publically and those that were ‘too ugly.’”

“Guys, I don’t know if you know what it’s like to step in front of a camera when you’re the only one that is rolled out on television on multiple occasions. But I think the thing that I’ve continued to try to impress upon the fan base and the general public is there’s been a lot of good people who have worked for this organisation that are no longer here. There’s still a lot of good people that roam the halls – at every level from Real Salt Lake, Utah Royals, Real Monarchs and the Academy – that are just looking for the DNA of the club, for what the badge is supposed to mean. And for a long time the idea of that hashtag #RSLfamily – that wasn’t it.” 

“So what I keep trying to come back to is that the investigations, the conversations [..] I think they are a really good thing. I don’t need to pile on – the information’s going to come out. And I think inevitably the truth will rear its ugly head and it’s not going to get any better. People ask me: has the dust fallen and settled? Not even close.”

“And I think that’s a good thing, because I think the organisation and everyone involved should continue to invite this investigation because ultimately it’ll lay bare all the ugly truths that have transpired over the years and […] take the house down to the slats, and build from the beginning. It will afford the new ownership an opportunity to get the right people involved and to get back to what the launch was meant to be, and that’s give this community a team—or teams—that they can be really proud of.”

Check out the full interview now.

Edwin Tubb