MLS proposes extending CBA by 2 years in exchange for no more pay cuts

Major League Soccer won’t ask players to take another pay cut, but will instead look to extend the current collective bargaining agreement by two years.

First reported by Yahoo‘s Doug McIntyre, the news comes just a week after MLS notified the MLS Players Association of their intent to invoke the Force Majeure clause in the CBA, triggering a 30 day negotiation period before potentially terminating the agreement.

MLS brought the revised terms to MLSPA on Tuesday, proposing that players receive their full salaries (they took a 5% cut last season due to the Covid-19 pandemic). The proposal also includes the current CBA extending through the 2027 season.

MLS released the following statement from president and deputy commissioner Mark Abbott on Tuesday:

“According to public health officials, the restrictions on attendance at live sporting events will continue far into the 2021 MLS season. In 2020, despite MLS and its clubs suffering extraordinary and unsustainable losses, players received 95 percent 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 percent of their salaries.”

The proposal would extend the CBA past the 2026 World Cup, set to take place in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. While it ensures no player salary cuts in the short term, it also severely limits room for growth in the coming years, especially when it comes to media-rights negotiations. With the current media-rights deal set to expire after the 2022 season, and the World Cup coming to domestic soil, there are opportunities for long-term growth that the players could forfeit in the new proposal.

From the league and ownership perspective, the proposal would see short-term losses, but the long-term gains would be significant; The Athletic has reported that MLS calculates their savings in the current proposal to be around $100-$110 million over the seven-year agreement.

It remains to be seen how the players will react to the proposal. While it offers short-term security, the long-term losses could be significant, and trust in the league is low after last summer’s negotiations. How they respond will have a significant impact on the future of the league.

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