Negotiations on 2020 MLS season down to the wire

Disney World soccer

The fate of the 2020 MLS season hangs in the balance, as league ownership and the MLS Players Association work out an agreement for the beginning of play at a summer tournament and an extension to the existing collective bargaining agreement to 2025.

The MLS Players Association agreed on a wide range of topics, including a reduced salary (by 7.5 percent, by some accounts) and bonuses for the 2020 season and tournament play to be held at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex, with players staying in a “controlled environment” at a Disney World resort. The 2020 tournament would allow players to skip play for medical reasons should they or a member of their household were at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure.

The agreements follow a previous agreement to extend the existing collective bargaining agreement to 2025, as announced in January. But two issues are currently under debate: players accepting a smaller percentage of league revenues come 2023 when a new TV contract is expected to contribute more to league coffers, and a new force majeure clause allowing the league to suspend contracts or withhold salaries in the case of a catastrophic event. How this is defined still needs to be determined: MLS is seeing to define a catastrophic event as something that causes five or more teams to suffer a 25 percent or more attendance drop from the previous year

By some measures, the changes to the CBA could yield the league an additional $100 million in revenue.

We are coming down to the wire on this one: ESPN is reporting that players are looking at a noon deadline on Tuesday to agree to MLS terms. If not, MLS players will be locked out of training facilities. While group practices have been on hold, individual players have been allowed access to training fields, but with the threat of a lockout looming, players skipped those workouts today.

If the two sides do come to an agreement, the 2020 tournament could begin as soon as June 24 and run for six weeks.

Photo courtesy Disney.

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