In conjunction with the Alliance Council, Seattle Sounders FC today announced the voting results for its second-ever General Manager Vote. Of the 37.2 percent of eligible voters that cast their ballots, 87.3 percent gave Sounders FC General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey a vote of retention. The outcome of this year’s General Manger Vote was announced at the 2018 Alliance Annual Business Meeting inside The Ninety earlier on Tuesday.
“Although we fell just short of the 40-percent threshold needed for a valid vote, we’ve heard a clear message from Alliance members about their confidence in the direction of our organization, and the body of work that Garth has put together over the past four seasons,” said Sounders FC Owner Adrian Hanauer. “More than anything, we believe the General Manager Vote remains essential to Democracy in Sports, ensuring that fans always have a say on the organization’s course, no matter who is in charge at the time.”
In light of tonight’s news, Lagerwey is reconfirmed as the organization’s chief soccer decision-maker. Hired in 2015, Lagerwey has overseen Sounders FC's soccer operations as the organization has achieved some of its greatest successes. Under his direction, the club captured its first MLS Cup in 2016, followed by a second consecutive Western Conference Championship and trip to MLS Cup in 2017. This season, Seattle advanced to its 10th consecutive berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs, tying the league record for consecutive postseason advancements in the process. Lagerwey’s record at the helm of the club over four years is 61-47-28 in MLS regular-season play, and 10-4-2 in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
"We are proud that Sounders fans continue to have a strong voice through the Alliance," said Alliance Council President Martin Buckley. "Being able to engage directly in the retention of the Sounders FC General Manager demonstrates Democracy in Sports in action. This joint commitment with Seattle Sounders FC is unique, and we look forward to being able to express our voice in the years ahead."
A unique feature in American sports, the ability for fans to vote to retain the club’s general manager is an important part of the Rave Green’s culture, stemming back to the team’s MLS launch.
“It is an honor and a privilege to have been appointed, and now to be elected, to serve as a steward of this legendary franchise,” said Lagerwey. “I want to express my gratitude to the fans for giving us this commanding mandate to continue on the path we have charted to date. My thanks to our Ownership for their financial commitment to this club and support of our team. I also wish to express gratitude to all the players and staff, without whom none of this is possible. It is my pleasure to lead the Sounders for four more years.”
ABOUT TONIGHT’S VOTING RESULTS
- Of the 37.2 percent of Alliance members that participated in the 2018 General Manager Vote, 87.3 percent cast a vote of retention for General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey.
- Alliance bylaws require that 40 percent of eligible Alliance members participate in the GM Vote for the final tally to be considered valid.
- The Alliance bylaws evolved following the first General Manager vote in 2012 from a 10,000-vote validity threshold to a percentage-based model to account for a larger volume of Sounders FC’s fan-base.
- As a point of comparison, the percentage of votes that were cast in then-General Manager Adrian Hanauer’s voting process in 2012 constituted 41.6 percent of all eligible votes at the time. Hanauer was retained with a 96.3 percent approval rating.
- As a result of tonight’s announcement, Sounders FC General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey is reconfirmed as the organization’s chief soccer decision-maker.
HISTORY OF THE VOTE
In 2008, as a condition of joining the Ownership Group of the newly-minted Seattle Sounders FC in Major League Soccer, Drew Carey championed the concept of Democracy in Sports – a model the team adopted and made one of its guiding principles. Under this belief, fans of the team are empowered to have a real, tangible say in the organization. The club feels that its fans have the right to determine the overall course of the team that they so passionately support.
“It was important for me to do [the GM vote], because that’s the only reason I wanted to be a part of the Ownership Group in the first place,” said Sounders FC Owner Drew Carey. “If they would have said, ‘no, we don’t want to do that,’ I wouldn’t have been a part of the Ownership Group. It was very important to me. There’s no other fan-base in the country that can do that for any other sport – have the opportunity to get rid of the GM if they don’t like what’s going on. This is really like a failsafe system for when things are going badly. It’s to keep the fans from divorcing the team and to quit participating with the team. It’s better than writing a letter to the editor, it’s better than to quit buying tickets, it’s better than complaining on a message board. This is the strongest message you can send to a team. It’s your voice and your club.”
One of the most visible pillars of Democracy in Sports, the GM Vote allows members of the team’s Alliance the opportunity to cast either a vote of retention or a vote of no confidence every four years of a general manager’s time in office.
In 2012, the club held its first-ever GM Vote, with Owner and then-General Manager Adrian Hanauer retained with a 96.3 percent approval rating of votes cast by Alliance members. Current General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey was hired prior to the 2015 season, with 2018 marking his fourth full season as GM and providing an opportunity for fans to vote on his retention.
WHO CAN VOTE
Alliance members are granted voting privileges. The Alliance was established in 2008 and exists to offer its members a voice in their club. By purchasing season tickets, fans are granted membership in the Alliance and receive all associated benefits. This includes full-season package holders, half-season package holders and suite holders.
ABOUT THE VOTE
Eligible fans are able to vote either yes or no in regard to the retention of the club’s general manager. A vote of yes signals retention, while a vote of no signals a vote of no confidence.
The vote is weighted, such that each Season Ticket Member holds as many votes as seats owned. For example, a fan with four season tickets then has four votes to cast in the GM Vote. Account holders with multiple seats may designate their additional votes to others through a specific process and should speak to their account representative to do so. If additional votes in an account are not specifically designated, then all votes in an account are cast in the same direction as the primary vote for that account.
This year’s GM Vote opened on September 19, with voting running through October 17. Alliance members were able to vote online at SoundersFC.com/GMVote or in person at CenturyLink Field during the team’s home matches on September 19, September 29 or October 8.
Alliance bylaws require that 40 percent of eligible Alliance members participate in the GM Vote for the final tally to be considered valid. In order for a vote of no confidence to move forward, it must be chosen by the super-majority of no less than 67 percent of all votes cast.
ABOUT CURRENT GENERAL MANAGER & PRESIDENT OF SOCCER GARTH LAGERWEY
Hired in 2015, Lagerwey has overseen Sounders FC’s soccer operations as the organization has achieved some of its greatest successes. Under his direction, the club captured its first MLS Cup in 2016, followed by a second consecutive Western Conference Championship and trip to MLS Cup in 2017. Lagerwey’s record at the helm of the club over four years is 61-47-28 in MLS regular-season play, and 10-4-2 in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
The Rave Green have continued their tradition of qualifying for the MLS Cup Playoffs each year of the organization’s MLS existence in the seasons under Lagerwey, with the club advancing to its 10th consecutive berth in the 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs, tying the league record for consecutive postseason appearances in the process. Sounders FC also set a single-season record of nine consecutive wins in 2018, running the table from July 4 through September 15. During the second portion of the 2018 campaign, Sounders FC set the MLS record for the best half-season in league history, going 14-2-1 during that stretch.
The club has also been competitive in CONCACAF Champions League play, which is a stated goal of the organization. Under Lagerwey, Sounders FC has secured qualification in two iterations of the tournament, securing Quarterfinal Round appearances both times before eventually falling to Liga MX powers Club Ámerica in 2015-2016 and Chivas Guadalajara in 2018. Since Lagerwey’s arrival, Seattle has played 10 CONCACAF Champions League matches, going 4-4-2 (15 goals for / 13 goals against).
Notable additions that Lagerwey has brought to the team include current Designated Players Nicolás Lodeiro (2016 MLS Newcomer of the Year) and Raúl Ruidíaz (2018 Sounders FC Golden Boot winner), in addition to internationals Román Torres, Gustav Svensson, Victor Rodríguez, Kelvin Leerdam, Kim Kee-hee, Nouhou and Brad Smith, while drafting or acquiring domestic players such as Jordan Morris (2016 MLS Rookie of the Year), Cristian Roldan, Will Bruin and Harry Shipp.
The number of Homegrown players under Lagerwey has doubled from five to 10, and Sounders FC has seen seven players from S2, the club’s USL affiliate, signed to First Team contracts.
Additionally, the organization’s Academy program has seen unprecedented success, winning several major titles over the past few years, including the 2018 U-17 U.S. Soccer Development Academy championship, the 2018 Generation Adidas Cup, a third-place finish in the 2017 U-19 U.S. Soccer Development Academy championship and winning the Youdan Trophy in England three times (2016-2018).
More than 20 Sounders Academy players are now affiliated with U.S. Soccer youth teams, while the club has eight official youth partner clubs to help identify and train top young prospects.