Revolution Notebook: MLS and MLSPA heading Towards Cliff

Anyone reading the tea leaves right now will come up with the assumption that Major League Soccer (MLS) and the Major League Soccer Players Association (MLSPA) is nowhere close to a new agreement on the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). On Tuesday MLS Commissioner Donald Garber held a call with the media stressing urgency of the negotiations and then on Wednesday the Head of the MLSPA, Bob Foose, held a media call of his own.

This back and forth started 11 days ago when MLS informed the players that they would invoke the force majeure clause in the CBA that they agreed to last June. When MLS informed the players about their intention, it started a 30-day clock in which the league can terminate the current CBA at its conclusion if it chooses to do so. If that window concludes and the league does not take any additional steps (terminate the CBA) the league will continue to operate under the existing CBA terms. In essence, there isn’t a lockout at the end of the 30-day window unless the league terminates the CBA.

On the call. Foose called the 30-day deadline “news to us” and saying that renegotiations are not required to be done in 30-days. The 30-day window as previously mentioned is the notice the league has to give about the possible use of the force majeure clause which would terminate the current CBA that the league agreed to last June.

As expected, MLSPA pushed back on the idea of extending the current CBA. While the league isn’t calling for any salary cuts in 2021 the extension of the CBA would impact players long-term. Foose noted that the CBA negotiations are about possible financial losses in 2021 and only the 2021 season. Beyond that, there are a lot of unknowns and neither side knows what will happen. This is why the players are pushing back on financial concessions for years down the road.

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In terms of a response from the MLSPA, they are in the process of coming up with one in consultation with their player leadership. The MLSPA call with the media would not have happened on Wednesday if it hadn’t been for Garber’s call on Tuesday which caught the MLSPA by surprise. Foose stated that the media had the proposal prior to the MLSPA getting it.

2021 MLS Season Start Date Up In the air as mlspa claims lack of communication with mls

One of the major frustrations that Foose echoed was the lack of communication from MLS to the players in terms of when training camps will open.

“That has been an incredible source of frustration in an otherwise frustrating time,” said Foose on not having dates from the league on training camps opening. “We’ve been asking for that date since well before MLS Cup and have also asked just for a statement that [says], ‘We are not going to report prior to X,’ so we can at least give the players something to rely on to plan their offseason. … We’ve gotten nothing from the league.”

While the league has publicly talked about a mid-March start date for the 2021 MLS season the players association believes that will be incredibly difficult to accomplish. The reason for that is not only the current labor disagreement but the fact that no training camp schedule has been relayed to the players. According to a report by Jeffery Carlisle of ESPN, the league has been making contingency plans for a league start “as late as May”.

All of this comes after a 2020 year in which bad blood was already created after MLS took the MLSPA back to the negotiations table after agreeing to the framework of a CBA back in February.

Not the right foot to start 2021 on for Major League Soccer as a lock-out would be detrimental to the league and the divide between the league and it’s players continues to widen.
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