(February 8, 2021)– Major League Soccer and the MLS Players Association officially ratified a new CBA, bringing to a close their third labor dispute in a calendar year, and avoiding an MLS lockout. The New Deal extends their CBA through 2027.
MLS Lockout Avoided: League, Players ratify new CBA
After today’s news the labor dispute comes to a close after players were asked to endure a third set of CBA negotiations in a calendar year.
After negotiating a CBA that MLS Players felt like they had made significant gains in the winter of 2020, the sides had never been able to formally ratify that CBA, which ran through 2024, before the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic began to take hold. As the season was put on pause, MLS owners took that opportunity to force the players back to the negotiating table. Players conceded portions of salary and bonuses in 2020 and 2021 as well as added an extra year to the already agreed to CBA. One thing negotiated was a force majeure clause, that could be invoked by either side in the event of a financially catastrophic event. While owners insisted it was a win for the players to have that in the CBA, they unsurprisingly were the ones who activated it on January 31 of 2020.
Players were rightfully upset, as the league’s owners threatened lockout to get their way and control revenue to the players as well as lowered the scale that player spending would be increased through the 2026 world cup, which would ideally result in a significant windfall for many of the MLS owners, allowing them to profit off the momentum the league would gain by hosting the largest world cup ever.
Players made a generous offer back which included nearly $150 million in concessions made by the players, which then the league took a hard stance of lockout against. The players and owners extended the CBA talks by one week, followed by a 24-hour push to get a deal done. Today, the players officially agreed to the deal and both sides ratified the contract. Here are some of the new details to the CBA.
Jeff Carlisle posted this picture giving a good breakdown of the finances:
Here are the final salary budget numbers in revised CBA. There will be an additional 100k in GAM added to salary budget in 2022, other than that, it's the same. So not a complete freeze, but basically it's the same. #MLS #MLSPA pic.twitter.com/wcX8n0IWXg
— Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle) February 8, 2021
Eliot McKinley of American Soccer Analysis also posted this helpful graphic, comparing the spending agreements to the previous agreement:
Here's how the MLS CBA agreed to today and the one agreed to pre-pandemic in 2020 compare.
— Eliot McKinley (@etmckinley) February 8, 2021
Charter Flights were also included, per Doug Roberson of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, giving teams 8 legs this season, increasing up to 18 in 2027.
The newly agreed to CBA includes a Force Majeure clause again. Hopefully, owners won’t choose to be greedy again and chose to blow it up again after the 2021 season. The players chose to play ball this time around, and I’d be hard-pressed to find them willing to do it yet again.