The Union announced Friday that they’ve set up an employee assistance fund to pay part-time game day staff who’ve lost money because Major League Soccer’s season is suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We recognize the impact that this unprecedented situation has caused and are proud to be able to give back to our community in a time of need,” a team statement said. “We look forward to welcoming back our staff when the season resumes.”
The fund also applies for games of the club’s reserve squad in the second-tier USL Championship. The USL team, Union II, also plays at Subaru Park and has had nine games postponed so far, including four home games.
“We’re just tryng to do the right thing,” Union president Tim McDermott told The Inquirer.
McDermott said “it ends up being about 225 or so people” who would have access to the fund, from ushers to ticket-takers to security to parking attendants and concession stand workers.
“It’s fairly broad in terms of the people we count on to run a game," he said. “We want to do our best to contribute to them. ... If people need it, we want them to reach out.”
MLS halted its season on March 12, and said on March 20 that it hopes to be back on the field on May 10. The league has ordered all of its teams to shut their practice facilities through April 3, except for necessary medical treatment by team doctors.
McDermott said all of the team’s staffers have been working at home since they left the office on the 12th. There have been no pay cuts asked of full-time employees.
Ten Union games are affected by the suspension, of which seven are home games -- including high-profile contests against the star-studded Los Angeles Galaxy and Atlanta United. Also postponed were regional rivalry games against D.C. United and New York City FC, which would have brought large numbers of visiting fans to Chester.
MLS still hopes to play its full 34-game season, in part because many teams (including the Union) need the game-day revenue. The league has said it intends to extend its season and playoffs into December, potentially moving the MLS Cup championship game to a warm-weather neutral site.
The USL has also suspended games through May 10, and practices through April 5. The National Women’s Soccer League has halted all preseason practices through April 5, and has said its season won’t start as scheduled on April 18.
Suspended Union games
March 14: vs. San Jose Earthquakes
March 22: vs. D.C. United
March 28: at Portland Timbers
April 5: at Inter Miami
April 11: vs. Montreal Impact
April 15: vs. Los Angeles Galaxy
April 19: vs. New York City FC
April 25: at Columbus Crew
May 2: vs. FC Cincinnati
May 9: vs. Atlanta United
Suspended Union II games
March 14: at North Carolina FC
March 28: at Charleston Battery
April 3: vs. Atlanta United 2
April 12: vs. Indy Eleven
April 20: vs. Sporting Kansas City 2
April 25: at Hartford Athletic
April 29: vs. Louisville City
May 3: at Birmingham Legion
May 9: at Pittsburgh Riverhounds