Seattle Sounders fans to vote on whether or not to retain general manager

In a savvy stroke of genius that is sure to not only give the team a healthy dose of publicity but will also give fans a sense of inclusion in the decision-making process and future direction of the franchise unheard of in American professional sports, the Seattle Sounders are providing its fans the opportunity to determine the fate of the Major League Soccer team’s general manager.

Beginning on Oct. 7, members of the “Alliance,” a fan association that includes season ticket holders and fans who are willing to pony up $125 per year, will either vote to “retain” Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer or give him the vote indicating “lack of confidence,” thus effectively deciding if Hanauer will stay on with the team.

The “Alliance” was the creation of Sounders minority investor Drew Carey, and the concept is patterned after how Spanish soccer clubs Barcelona and Real Madrid go about business. And the vote is not a one-time thing: Every four years, the “Alliance” will go through a similar voting process, a philosophy and practice that Carey truly believes in, telling the The News Tribune of Tacoma, Wash. last year (via Sporting News):

“I had one person say, ‘You let the fans vote? What do the fans know?’ That was exactly the phrase. And I go, ‘Well, the fans know as much as the sports reporters know. The fans know if somebody isn’t doing a good job. Everybody knows.’ That was my argument from the first time I told [Sounders majority owner] Joe Roth about it. I said everybody knows when a general manager’s not doing a good job. It’s no secret.’

“I told Joe, that phrase I used was, ‘The fans will do your dirty work for you.’ Because the fans aren’t going to care,” Carey said. “If Adrian — he’s not, he’s great — but if Adrian was a terrible general manager and really screwing up the team right now, the fans aren’t going to go, ‘Well, man, he’s a nice guy though. He promised he’ll do better next year. I know his family. Let’s give him another year.’ That’s not how they’re going to think. They’re going to go, ‘No. Get rid of this guy,’ the first chance they can.”

What a concept, although there is virtually no chance any of the other major professional sports in the US will follow suit with anything similar to this brilliant idea.

At the same time, something tells me current Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer is not too fond of how his job hangs in the balance of the whims of the team’s fans. Well, I guess it depends on how the vote goes.

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  1. Jamey

    September 28, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Will the fans get to vote whether Drew Carey remains an active owner, too?

  2. Turpinator

    September 28, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Interesting story on sports management and begs a debate on philisophical terms. But, Who are the Sounders and what sport do they represent?

    • Kicker2420

      September 28, 2012 at 6:45 pm

      @Turpinator The Seattle Sounders are an MLS (Major League Soccer) team.

    • Kingsrv

      September 28, 2012 at 9:13 pm

      Why do people comment on things they don’t actually read. If you read the first sentence it tells you “the Seattle Sounders are providing its fans the opportunity to determine the fate of the Major League Soccer team’s general manager”

    • -RM

      September 28, 2012 at 11:07 pm

      I think that comment was more of a statement of “…by and large, nobody knows who the Seattle Sounders are because a vast majority of Americans does not give a flying fornication about Major League Soccer.” than legit asking who the Sounders are because they didn’t read the entire first paragraph.

      Yes, there ARE people who care, since the above opens me up for a flame war I really don’t care about, but there are far more people who barely even know the league even exists. Even with the marketing ploy that was David Beckham, it’s not exactly in any danger of rivaling the NFL.

      Yes, it’s hard to read sarcasm on the internet, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

      • SeaTown

        September 29, 2012 at 5:02 am

        I totally got the sarcasm there. The truth is an average of 42,134 fans per home game know exactly who the Sounders are and what sport they play. Compared to the Cincinnati Bengals 49,251 average attendance for the 2011 season and I’d say that a pretty big portion of the U.S population is very familiar with the MLS and soccer in general.

        Didn’t our women just win a Gold Medal in the Olympics, and weren’t they runners up in the World Cup just last year? The sarcasm about the U.S. not caring about soccer is ridiculous.

        I guess maybe to understand that you’ve got to come from a forward thinking, progressive community. You know the kind, or maybe you don’t, where billionaire techies own sports franchises.

    • Gerry T

      September 29, 2012 at 3:45 am

      Uh, yeah, you might want to try actually reading the article next time given said info appears in the first sentence. Also, how long does it take a computer search to divulge who the Seattle Sounders are? Got a kick, no pun intended, out of Kicker actually being lame enough to bother answering the question.

  3. beatsme

    September 28, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    How can you can a guy who looks like Benny Hill?

    • bj

      September 28, 2012 at 8:49 pm

      Looks more like Drew Carey…

  4. Soccerfan831

    September 28, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    As a Quakes fan, I say keep the GM; 3 Open Cup titles!? Playoffs!? It’s a tough one because I think Seattle doesn’t have the personnel on the field and that is the GM’s job. hmmm

  5. Dan Masters

    September 28, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    Can’t Drew Carey afford better shoes than those horrendously ugly Crocs?

  6. Gerry T

    September 29, 2012 at 3:22 am

    Sounds to me like Roth might have been too chickenshit to pass on coddling his friend Carey’s whims. Hanauer must feel like a fool to be the guinea pig in this. Hell if I’d invest tens of millions of dollars into buying an MLS franchise only to eventually allow the fans to make key management decisions, but whatever, that’s the beuaty of having the power to make, or cede, decisons that are ultimately going to affect many people.

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