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Volume 20 No. 42
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Referees union largely funded by NFL

While the NFL and NFL Referees Associations traded barbs in the media last week over who was responsible for the league locking out the referees, there was at least one point of irony to the back-and-forth: Nearly all of the NFLRA’s budget is funded by the NFL.

The NFLRA reported assets of $1.4 milion and minimal debt at the end of 2011.
According to the referees association’s most recently available annual report, filed for last year with the Department of Labor, the NFLRA had $730,749 in revenue — and $600,000 of that came from the NFL, classified as marketing rights. Most of the other revenue came from membership dues.

NFLRA members might not be as worried about missing paychecks members of the NFL Players Association were during their labor dispute with the league last year, though the NFLPA also gets a healthy share of its revenue from the NFL.

Referees work part time in their NFL capacities and have other jobs. The NFLRA also has a healthy financial cushion, with assets of $1,457,492 and minimal debt as of Dec. 31, 2011, so the temporary loss of the NFL money likely would not harm the organization, which uses the money to pay its staff and outside counsel.

The NFL’s collective-bargaining agreement with the referees expired May 31, and the league locked them out three days later. The league is offering a smaller pay increase than the NFLRA wants as well a move from pensions to a 401(k)-type retirement program.

— Daniel Kaplan