MLS reaches tentative agreement with players association to move closer to kicking off 2021 season
Full details of the proposed Collective Bargaining Agreement, however, were not immediately revealed
New York: Major League Soccer (MLS) said Friday it had reached a tentative agreement on a collective bargaining agreement with players, paving the way for the season to start as scheduled on 3 April.
"Major League Soccer and the Major League Soccer Players Association today reached a tentative agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement," the league said in a statement.
"The agreement, covering the next seven years from 2021 through 2027, is subject to the approval of the MLS Board of Governors and the membership of the MLSPA."
A deal would avert a threatened lockout of players by the league, which had invoked a force majeure clause in the collective bargaining agreement to reopen negotiations on a contract that was agreed upon but not ratified before the 2020 campaign and revised in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
MLS commissioner Don Garber said the league lost $1 billion due to coronavirus and with the pandemic still overshadowing the 2021 campaign, could not afford another season of comparable losses.
The MLSPA had countered that the renegotiation was prompted by "financial opportunism."
MLS had already extended the deadline to end negotiations — by a week and again on Thursday by 24 hours.
Full details of the proposed CBA were not immediately revealed.
Extending the deal through 2027 was one of the main points of disagreement, with the league pushing for it and the union reluctant to delay the increase in compensation that usually comes with a new agreement.
But the MLSPA, which said in a statement earlier this week that a work stoppage "at this time and in this environment would be catastrophic for the standing of MLS" confirmed in a statement Friday night that a tentative deal had been struck.
It will be put to the union membership for a ratification vote this weekend.
The North American league's 26th season is set to kick off in April with 27 clubs in US and Canadian markets, including expansion team Austin FC and other new sides planned in Charlotte, St Louis and Sacramento.
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