It appears we are inching closer to a return to play for Major League Soccer and Sporting Kansas City. According to a report out of The Athletic by Paul Tenorio and Sam Stejskal, the MLSPA approved a plan that will now go back to the league to return to play in early July.
It’s a new take on the previously reported, ‘Orlando Plan’ that came out in recent weeks. Under this plan players would report to Orlando, Florida on June 24th, train for two weeks and then play a three-game group stage which would be followed by a sort of playoff.
Teams that don’t advance out of the group stage would return home immediately. The teams that remain, and it’s not clear how many of them would advance, would then do a knockout style playoff format.
Previously it was reported that the games would count towards the regular season, but it’s unclear exactly how that might work in this situation with some teams playing as few as three games.
The whole event would take approximately six weeks, as opposed to a 10-week or longer plan that was previously laid out.
One possible sticking point is a reduction in player pay that will accompany it. Some players appear to not want to take a pay cut at all considering they are the ones exposed to the physical risks of traveling. ESPN has done significant reporting on the pay cut. At times ownership has wanted anywhere from 20 to 50 percent reduction in pay. However, the latest proposal is for just a 10 percent reduction.
According to Jeff Carlisle of ESPN, the players are considering a counter-offer of 7.5% reduction.
There are other factors at play in the deal too around the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) which hasn’t been ratified, despite being mostly agreed to prior to the season. The Athletic has more on that discussion, including a potential one-year delay in revenue sharing.
While the terms have yet to be agreed to, it seems we are approaching a return to play in the United States. Most famously the Bundesliga has returned to action over the last few weeks in Germany and the English Premier League will return to action on June 17th.
On Sunday, the MLSPA released a statement.
“This evening, MLS Players voted to approve a package of economic concessions for the 2020 season, modifications to the recently agreed-upon CBA, including its extension by a year, and their agreement to participate in a summer tournament in Orlando. Included were salary reductions across the entire player pool, reduced team and individual bonuses, and additional concessions to existing and future terms of the CBA. While a difficult vote in incredibly challenging times, it was taken collectively to ensure that Players can return to competition as soon as they are safely able to do so. The package has been formally submitted to the league for a decision by the owners.”
Shortly after that Herculez Gomez Tweeted that MLS has given the MLSPA until noon on Tuesday to accept their final proposal. One assumes this is a counter to the earlier agreed upon plan by the MLSPA. Gomez goes on to say the league would lock out the players, by not accepting the CBA, if they don’t agree.
The Blue Testament will bring you more in the coming days and weeks. Sporting KC head coach and sporting director Peter Vermes has a Zoom teleconference on Monday, June 1st, where this topic will surely come up.