SBD/Issue 93/Leagues & Governing Bodies

MLS, Union Officials Hold Extensive Talks Ahead Of Sunday Deadline

MLS and MLS Players' Union officials "met for eight hours yesterday at league headquarters, and discussions are scheduled to resume" today over a new CBA, though "progress ... has been hard to track," according to Ridge Mahoney of SOCCER AMERICA. Some incentive to "cut a deal is certainly being provided by an expiration date of Jan. 31, this Sunday, for the current CBA, yet other forces are wielding influence as well." On the management side, while MLS Commissioner Don Garber and President Mark Abbott "present a united front, there's some sentiment among certain ownership groups to get a deal done while retaining the league's structure and philosophies." Meanwhile, the players "may have to give up on any form of free agency for the time being," but "adding a second fully guaranteed year to contracts would give the players some added security." Also, a "viable retirement plan along with incremental increases in the minimum salary and salary cap might be the best they can achieve this time around" (, 1/27). SOCCER BY IVES' Ives Galarcep cited sources as saying that “no deal is in place” for a new MLS CBA, and a deal is “still far from being completed.” Galarcep: “MLS can't afford to not get a deal done. ... Any suggestions or hints that a deal is already done or close to done are misleading." The league is "still holding firm on many major issues while the Players Union appears ready to fight hard for changes, at least fight much harder than it did in the last CBA, when MLS trampled a weak union and walked away with every concession and a league-friendly CBA” (, 1/27).

DOWN TO THE WIRE: In San Diego, Mark Zeigler writes unless there is an "eleventh-hour accord" ahead of Sunday's deadline, the "most likely scenario is a players' lockout by the owners on Monday morning -- the first such labor stoppage in the league's 15-year history." Neither side is "talking much, respecting to a mutual media gag order, but snippets of sentiment have leaked out over the past few months as talks have grown more contentious." It is "not looking good," as several players and agents "privately say they consider a Feb. 1 lockout inevitable." Sounders G Kasey Keller wrote on his blog, "What's most disappointing to me is, this isn't a negotiation for a bunch of players wanting $8[M] a year instead of $7[M] a year. The main points revolve around us being given the same rights under FIFA as the rest of the players around the world" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/27). Philadelphia Union D Danny Califf: "To be honest, I don't think the demands of the players are unreasonable." Union D Jordan Harvey: "The good news is that both sides are talking, so I feel confident that if it doesn't happen (right away), it will." Union manager Peter Nowak: "We have had plans established for a few months in the event something (lockout-related) happens, but ultimately (as a team), it's not our decision" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 1/27).

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