The “United” in the name Minnesota United apparently does not extend to some of the club’s gameday employees.
Minnesota United, one of Major League Soccer’s newer clubs, sent an email to employees on Tuesday that did not pledge to support them like so many other teams and leagues have done while the coronavirus crisis shuts down the industry.
Rather, the reported email told employees they were encouraged to file for unemployment benefits, and that the club’s partners at Cub Foods, PepsiCo and Target are hiring. The email was later leaked to a fan group of the club.
Sad to report @MNUFC has the WORST response to the COVID-19 crisis in MLS.
While many other teams are paying staff the wages they need, United and its billionaire owner have a message for their employees: “uh... we hear Pepsi’s hiring!”
The Team’s email: pic.twitter.com/XIy6WFoMhj
— Red Loons (@RedLoons) March 25, 2020
The email was confirmed by the Pioneer Press to have been sent by the team, which defended itself by saying that the email was part of a series of emails to roughly 100 workers:
Minnesota United told the Pioneer Press on Wednesday this email was plucked out of a series of four or five that intended to inform and communicate with a subset of about 100 workers — mostly ticket-takers and ushers who work only a few hours at each Loons home game at the St. Paul stadium. These emails did not go to contracted stadium workers in food, janitorial and security services nor full-time employees, who are working from home during the health crisis.
Minnesota United is principally owned owned by William McGuire, a former chairman and CEO of UnitedHealth Group. McGuire resigned in disgrace from UnitedHealth in 2006 amid allegations of backdating stock options, purported to be worth $1.6 billion. He eventually paid back over $400 million to the SEC and shareholders.
McGuire is joined in the United’s ownership group by the Minnesota Twins-owning Pohlad family (net worth $3.5 billion as of 2015), Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor ($2.8 billion) and members of the Carlons family ($2.2 billion).
Minnesota United isn’t alone in cutting out gameday employees during the coronavirus shutdown, as the TD Garden — owned by the Boston Bruins and leased by the Boston Celtics — also reportedly informed its workers they were being laid off on Tuesday.
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