Seattle Sounders Alliance changes rules for general manager retention vote

The Seattle Sounders’ unique structure of fan evaluation and control of front-office operations has undergone a tweak this offseason.

The Sounders and their Alliance Council agreed on a new set of rules for voting on and retaining the team’s general manager, changes that were first announced at the club’s Alliance Annual Business Meeting for season-ticket holders at the Paramount Theater last week.

Under the new agreement, the Sounders Alliance, comprised of the club’s season-ticket holders, have the option to call for a recall vote two years into the general manager's tenure. There will still be am automatic GM retention vote every four years, as was the case under the old set of rules.

The change is meant to accommodate a scenario in which a new general manager was hired in the middle of a four-year term, something that wasn’t covered under the old agreement. The situation arose after the Sounders hired current general manager Garth Lagerwey to take over the position from majority owner Adrian Hanauer before the start of this season.

The Alliance voted to retain Hanauer as general manager in 2012, with 97 percent of the 14,000 votes. The hiring of Lagerwey partway through Hanauer’s tenure meant the old agreement would have dictated that Lagerwey come under evaluation after the 2016 season.

Under the revamped rules, a new four-year term begins from the moment of Lagerwey’s hiring, meaning a vote won’t be conducted until the end of the 2018 season. The ability to vote on a recall after two years, however, means that Lagerwey could still come under evaluation before that four-year timeframe has elapsed.

Additionally, instead of a simple majority vote needed to remove the general manager, the new rules require a 67 percent vote in favor of a GM's dismissal with at least 40 percent of the council required to submit votes.

Lagerwey said he was aware of the possibility of fan scrutiny when he left Real Salt Lake to take the job this past offseason.

“I signed up for it,” Lagerwey told reporters in his end-of-season conference call on Wednesday. “When I started, I said I felt like I was the custodian of a trust, a four-year trust, a generational trust for the fans in Seattle. That’s a really special thing, something I try to pay lots of respect to.

“I won’t be evaluated for four years, so three years from now. Hopefully, by then, I’ll have had my chance to make my mark on the club. That’ll be a fair evaluation at that time.”