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MLS Avoids Lockout Opening the Door on a Return to Play

The Players Union released a statement on Wednesday.

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It sounds like soccer is about to return. On Wednesday morning the MLS Players Association (MLSPA) agreed to ratify the revised Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). They released the following statement.

The MLSPA have very little detail about the agreement, just saying, “MLS Players today ratified a new collective bargaining agreement, which will run through the 2025 season. Today’s vote also finalizes a plan to resume the 2020 season and provides players with certainty for the months ahead. It allows our members to move forward and continue to compete in the game they love.”

ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle has more details.

“A union source told ESPN that the total amount of economic concessions amounts to over $100 million. It includes an across the board salary cut of 7.5% that isn’t retroactive and is set to kick in for on May 31 payroll period. Players will have the option to delay the salary cut until after the Orlando tournament, but the total amount of the cut will be the same. Performance and individual bonuses will be capped at $5m for this season.”

Additionally, Carlisle is reporting on both of the other major issues: the force majeure clause and revenue sharing in regards to the new broadcast fees. Both have been agreed to.

Yesterday, per Sam Stejskal and Paul Tenorio at The Athletic, the players have agreed to a force majeure clause similar to what the NBA has with it’s players. It removes the attendance based measures that were an issue previously.

As far as broadcast rights, Carlisle said, “a revenue sharing plan tied to a new broadcast rights deal set to begin in 2023 has also been modified. The original terms would have resulted in 25% of the broadcast rights fee that was $100m above 2022 levels starting in 2023 being funneled into each team’s salary budget as well as General Allocation Money. The two sides agreed to reduce the percentage in 2023 to 12.5%. The percentage would return to 25% in 2024.”

The last detail that emerged, and had been previously reported, is that players have agreed to delay salary bumps. So 2020’s number will be in effect for 2021 as well and all the other years just slide back by a year (e.g. 2021’s previous number will not be effect in 2022).

When Will MLS Return?

Right now that’s unclear. The most likely solution is the last reported plan that has players arriving in Orlando on or around June 24th with play to being two weeks later. Presumably MLS will make an announcement soon. It has been recently confirmed that the three group stage games will be counted towards a regular season that the league hopes to resume. However, the knockout-style playoff type games of the teams that advance from the group stage will not count outside of towards winning the tournament.

The Blue Testament will bring you more information as it’s made available for your beloved Sporting Kansas City and the rest of the league.

Update 6:39 PM CT: This story originally stated it wasn’t clear if the knockout games would count towards the regular season but it was pointed out by ‘Farmhand’ in the comments that the Washington Post confirmed they would not. The story has been updated to reflect that information.