While there are much bigger things happening in the world at the moment, it appears that a barrier is building between the MLS Player Association and MLS, potentially preventing the scheduled league restart in Orlando. Reporting by ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle indicates that a lockout could be on the horizon as the league and its players disagree over pandemic-caused economic concessions and modifications to the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
I’ll spare you the specifics of the disagreement (click over to Jeff’s article for that; it’s very informative), but the gist of it is that MLS rejected the MLSPA’s counter-offer to the league’s proposal for economic concessions, player salary cuts in particular. The sides have elements in common, and the players appear willing to make real concessions, but the league is saying that it’s made its best offer: an 8.75 percent pay cut, while the players offered 7.5 percent.
The other points of conflict surround the CBA and the force majeure clause, which MLS’s proposal includes while the MLSPA’s doesn’t. A force majeure clause would allow either side to back out of the back out of the CBA in the event of a major destabilizing event, as is occurring now. There are also concerns over future revenue sharing plans.
Lockout is imminent
Former player and current ESPN analyst Herculez Gomez reported that if the players don’t accept MLS’s answer by noon on Tuesday, the players will be locked out. If the lockout continues, there will obviously be implications for the restart scheduled for late June. There is supposed to be a group stage and knockout round tournament involving all 26 MLS teams in Orlando.
By most indications, the MLSPA has been fairly conciliatory in its approach. They are willing to take cuts to their salaries, having already voted to approve a package that included $100 million in concessions. The league should be motivated to end any lockout as quickly as possible so as to not affect games this summer. MLS needs gameday revenue, even if fans won’t be in the stadiums. Missing out on games due to labor disputes would be a bad look for the league, and a missed opportunity to take advantage of a sports-starved populace.