Major League Soccer is proposing no more pay cuts to its players for the 2021 season but in exchange is asking for a two-year extension to the collective bargaining agreement.
MLS presented its revised labour agreement to the MLS Players Association on Tuesday, a week after the league invoked its force majeure clause that obligates the league and the MLSPA to negotiate modifications to the existing CBA in good faith for 30 days.
The league is proposing that players receive their full salaries after they agreed to a 5% pay reduction as part of a renegotiated CBA in June when the league returned with the MLS is Back tournament. As part of the new proposal, MLS wants the current CBA extended through 2027.
“According to public health officials, the restrictions on attendance at live sporting events will continue far into the 2021 MLS season,” MLS president and deputy commissioner Mark Abbott said in a statement. “In 2020, despite MLS and its clubs suffering extraordinary and unsustainable losses, players received 95% of their salaries. To address the ongoing impact of the pandemic in 2021, MLS is proposing to extend the term of the existing collective bargaining agreement for two years rather than seeking any salary reduction. This proposal will help ensure the long-term health of the league while paying MLS players 100% of their salaries.”
If an agreement on the modifications cannot be reached, the CBA from June could be terminated. The league invoked the force majeure clause following a season where it says it had nearly $1 billion in losses due to the pandemic as it played in mostly empty stadiums and with increased costs for testing and charter flights.
MLS teams rely mostly on gameday revenues and the league estimated those were down about 95% across the league in 2020.
The league and the union reached a five-year collective bargaining agreement last February, but it had not been ratified when the season was put on hold in March by the pandemic.
The sides renegotiated the deal in June ahead of the tournament in Florida, agreeing to a new one that included across-the-board pay cuts and reduced bonuses. The renegotiations also included a one-year extension to the CBA through the 2025 season.
The league values the proposed two-year extension through 2027 at being worth between $100 million to $115 million.
The players association has expressed concern about the league trying to reopen negotiations on the CBA. In December, MLSPA executive director Bob Foose said players may balk at a third contract negotiation in less than a year. The league is hoping they are more receptive knowing salary reductions are not part of the proposal.
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Tim Booth, The Associated Press