Things are about to get interesting. Okay, technically they’re already there. As we’ve been discussing this week in our daily link posts, the league and its players are in the middle of yet another Collective Bargaining Agreement discussion that is beginning to turn ugly.
The initial deadline imposed by Major League Soccer to reach a deal on a revised CBA with the MLS Players Association came and went Thursday evening. But today began with an update from the league.
MLS announced a one-week extension for negotiations. This time, if the deadline passes without a deal, MLS said they will terminate the CBA and lock the players out.
“Major League Soccer met with the MLSPA and players yesterday to continue discussions on how to address the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the league said in a statement. “Although we remain far apart, we will extend the 30-day negotiating period by one week to provide every opportunity to finalize an agreement. As part of the extension, MLS and the MLSPA are committed to a regular schedule of meetings over the coming days.”
The owner’s initial offer called for a two-year extension of the CBA agreed to in June ahead of the MLS is Back tournament, in which the players agreed to a host of concessions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, including the now noted force majeure clause. In December, the league notified the players they would invoke the clause due to ongoing financial ramifications from the pandemic, with an initial deadline of Thursday at midnight.
“Given the impact of COVID-19 on how clubs will need to operate during preseason, we must finalize an agreement in the coming days in order to provide teams and players adequate time to prepare for the opening of training camps,” according to the release from the league. “If we are unable to finalize a new CBA by 11:59 p.m. ET on February 4, the MLS Labor Committee has voted unanimously to authorize the league to terminate the CBA and institute a lockout.”
So that is where we’re at with this situation. While the two sides seemed to agree recently on a start date to the season (April 3), they now have a limited time to really make things happen. If players are locked out, it has been reported that they may be free to go overseas and find new homes until things are ratified with MLS.
To put it lightly, things are ugly right now. The league has never locked out the players before and given how things went last year between the two sides, the players aren’t happy at the moment. Relationships have been soured but I don’t think beyond a point of no return.
What do you all make of this latest update? Will the league really lockout the players in the coming weeks? Or is this all a bit for show?