Former RSL Coach Mike Petke Responds To Club’s Motion To Dismiss

Oct 15, 2019, 3:32 PM | Updated: 3:32 pm
FILE: SANDY, UT - MARCH 12: General view of Rio Tinto Stadium before the Seattle Sounders play Real...
FILE: SANDY, UT - MARCH 12: General view of Rio Tinto Stadium before the Seattle Sounders play Real Salt Lake on March 12, 2016 in Sandy, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Former Real Salt Lake coach Mike Petke filed a response to the club’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, saying the dispute should stay under the jurisdiction of Utah state courts, according to court documents.

The response was the latest development in the lawsuit between Petke and RSL, in which the former coach claims he is owed $700,000 in unpaid salary.

Petke’s contract was terminated by the club on August 11 after he served a 3-game suspension for comments he made towards match officials after RSL’s 1-0 loss to Tigres in the Leagues Cup on July 24.

On October 7, RSL filed a motion to force arbitration or dismiss the lawsuit, citing MLS rules requiring disputes between teams and any employee to be arbitrated by the league’s commissioner.

Petke’s representatives allege in the latest response that Petke’s contract did not include an arbitration clause but did include a “Governing Law” provision, which they said forces any dispute to be interpreted, governed or enforced under Utah state law.

They also said “Petke’s lawsuit is no publicity stunt as RSL alleges in its opening brief,” according to court documents, and allege RSL “sacked” former General Manager Craig Waibel, “whose emails and statements attacking RSL’s decision to fire Mr. Petke are quoted throughout Mr. Petke’s complaint.”

Waibel has been subpoenaed to testify and produce documents at the Salt Lake City offices of Bennett Tueller Johnson & Deere, which is representing Petke in the lawsuit, on October 25.

RSL terminated Waibel’s contract on September 27 and the club said the two parties “mutually agreed to part ways.”

According to documents filed in Petke’s lawsuit, Waibel told Petke he would be leaving the club after the 2019 season.

“Both Waibel and Zarkos also told Petke that they were no longer going to put up with Hansen’s conduct and that they had a plan to exit RSL after the season. Waibel then said, ‘It’ll be at the end of the year, because I also don’t think Dell Loy [Hansen] should ever be rewarded for who he is,’” court documents stated.

In the brief filed Tuesday, Petke’s representatives allege representatives for RSL have reached out to MLS Commissioner Don Garber and requested he immediately begin arbitration by setting a schedule and issuing an order ruling Petke’s claims are subject to arbitration.

All of this comes four days before RSL opens its 2019 MLS Playoffs campaign against the Portland Timbers at Rio Tinto Stadium at 8 p.m.

The game can be streamed live on the KSL TV app or seen on ESPNews.

RSL finished the season with 53 points, earning the club the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference. Should the team advance to the Western Conference Semifinals, it would either host No. 7 FC Dallas or travel to No. 2 Seattle on October 23, two days before Waibel is scheduled to testify.

The conference final matchup is scheduled for October 29 and MLS Cup is set for November 10.

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Former RSL Coach Mike Petke Responds To Club’s Motion To Dismiss