The MLS Players Association ratified a new, amended Collective Bargaining Agreement and financial concessions for 2020 on Wednesday, paving the way for the return of MLS play in the coming weeks.
The MLSPA reportedly agreed to more than $100 million in financial relief for team owners and the league, including a standard pay cut for the remainder of the year (either five percent or 7.5 percent, depending on the source) and a total cap on bonuses around the league at $5 million for this year. In addition, the new CBA will be extended for a year, to expire at the end of Jan. 2026, revenue sharing will be delayed and under new terms, and there is a new force majeure clause added to the CBA that will allow either side to cancel it with 30 days’ notice, but now the force majeure clause will not include provisions about a drop in attendance triggering said clause.
The agreement comes after the league demanded the MLSPA concede to team owners’ demands or face a lockout, first threatened to kick in on Tuesday and then extended to Wednesday. In response to that nuclear option threat and public outcry, players did not turn up to officially voluntary training around the league in response. Of course, the San Jose Earthquakes are the only team in the league to not have officially been cleared to train at all at this point in the coronavirus pandemic.
Here is the full statement from the MLSPA on the deal reached:
This agreement paves the way for the return to play plan to be announced, likely later this week or next week. According to reputable reports, all 26 MLS teams will go to Orlando to take part in a kickoff tournament, with teams playing three group games likely to count in the regular-season standings. The top finishers in the tournament there will go to a knockout tournament, the competition likely looking similar to the World Cup format.
The neutral tournament is supposed to last just over a month, according to MLS commissioner Don Garber, and with teams away from home for about six weeks. While many expect teams should be able to return to play behind closed doors in their home venues after that, if there is not another surge of coronavirus, it’s unclear what all of this means for the Earthquakes — if they can’t train, would they go to Orlando early? What happens if Santa Clara County doesn’t allow them to host games at Earthquakes Stadium? Would the league plan fall apart or would the club have to play in another location until given the green light locally?
Obviously there are a lot of questions to be answered yet, but do expect the league to confirm the details of the return to play plan in the coming days and fill in some of the details. We’ll keep you posted on developments as we hear them.
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