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    Default MLS Says they Will Rip Up the Player CBA - The Negotiations Thread

    Just to corral this a bit as I fear this will be the major talking point until late Feb

    Here's the ESPN article

    https://www.espn.com/soccer/major-le...ate-cba-source


    Here's the MLSPA response


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    You know, this will sound counter intuitive, but the players have nobody but themselves to blame for this.

    They haven’t stuck up to ownership when they’ve had the opportunity to and now the bully is back again, punching them in the face and taking their lunch money.

    Until they seriously strike back and let ownership know they aren’t an easy “get” they’ll continue to suffer these indignities.

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    So the CBA didn’t have this language, then they negotiated it in there for MLS is Back and now it’s inevitably being invoked. This is sheer stupidity on the players behalf. Wake me up when the bloodbath is over.

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    It’s amazingly hard to find any coherent discussion about this issue anywhere. It hovered over this whole fake season.

    The players had to give up the force majeure clause to play this year. The owners weren't going to play games this year without regaining the ability to opt out. The players acted like partners and signed up for the new deal in May. The players will remember that league was threatening to terminate the players medical plans and do other scorched earth stuff as part of that. Nice guys.

    It wasn’t stupidity on the players part to go along. Tough to say no to getting 92.5% of your compensation without a fight, in a year like this. But they just kicked the can, and it's on now.

    Probably the players should've just folded their arms in May, stayed home, demanded their pay checks, which they were entitled to, games or no games, and said, see you in court. Frankly, Jozy did a version of this, something tells me. (You can learn a fair bit about the politics of this from his body language. )

    The real stupidity was that Orlando bubble, which must have incurred big losses (did anybody beyond 1000 hardcores in each market watch those games?) to no purpose. That just made the economic problems worse. Putting aside the dubious moral issues with that tournament at the time.

    This move towards a lockout was preordained if the pandemic lockdown ran into 2021 but I thought the owners would wait until spring - there must be a reason to do it now.

    ———-

    My prediction: see y’all in 2022. The players got screwed in May and they will now be willing to go to the ramparts, this time. This is not about cutting costs 25% or something. The owners will want reductions of 75% or similar based on some sort of “revenue sharing”, and the players are going to stay home. This is a funny inversion of the 2004-2005 NHL lockout, where the players wanted revenue sharing. But NHL players were stuck - MLS players are not forced to be “partners” of MLS owners, there are too many other places they can play, and MLS careers are short. Players are also not going to go for revenue sharing in a league where revenues are minuscule relative to franchise values.

    Owners are now going to lock the players out and play with whoever will cross the line for 60K a year or whatever.
    Last edited by ensco; 12-29-2020 at 11:16 PM.
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    I work in an unrelated business (a sub sector of banking) and we have what are essentially Force Majeure clauses in our contracts.

    Nobody would dare use them because it has wide reaching implications. The punch line being: you can’t just call Force Majeure on the things you want, once you open the box it could apply to almost anything when it comes to the relationship with your counterparty. So the fear is you call Force Majeure and your counterparty comes back and uses the same clause against you in other ways.

    I’d be interested to hear the implications for MLS and their CBA. The wildest concept I could think of, is players could claim with termination of the CBA the league has compromised players contracts, therefore everyone is now a free agent.

    Not saying this is the case, as I am no lawyer (only going off experience) but I wonder if this will come back to bite the league in some way and would be interested to see some analysis from someone in-the-know.

    Edit: it appears this might have been slightly sensationalized in initial reporting. The below gives me a bit of hope we won’t have a labour stoppage:

    Last edited by ag futbol; 12-30-2020 at 09:50 AM.

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    ^Agree with this point. Having slept on it, I see the players giving up a bit, and the owners caving.

    ____

    I see a lot of discussion about losses elsewhere on this ... people are frequently confused by this in life.

    Asking whether MLS are “losing money” is a naive way to frame this.

    Netflix is “losing money”. Tesla is “losing money”. Amazon lost money for 25 years. Most sports team “lose money” because of how accounting depreciation of player contracts works. This is both sports and an emerging businesses going after incumbents and a big opportunity. MLS should, by design, lose money for at least another decade.

    If MLS owners want to "make" money they can pay A-league level salaries, but then they will have an A-league level product with which to pursue the TV opportunity.

    MLS are undoubtedly taking a huge hit. Bigger than most as this is a gate driven league. Players will have to give something up next year. But I suspect any ask over, say 20% at most, won't work, and as I argue above, revenue sharing will absolutely cause the players to revolt.

    These are the starting data points:
    - TFC was worth $10M in 2007 and is worth 40-50x more today, $400-500M (the Fire sold for $400M a year ago).
    - Wages are up about 4x in the same period (from $2.5M to $10M per team) but only 2x, from 40K to $80K, at the minimum.
    - Revenues are up less than 4x, probably more like 2-3x. With a lot of the growth coming from expansion fees. TV has gone mostly nowhere, but that is in part be design - Garber has been "all in" on the 2022 TV renewal cycle.
    - SUM is irrelevant with respect to all its non-MLS rights, those are a separate business that the players rightly have no business getting in the middle of.

    I hadn't fully considered the TV point last night. Not sure the owners can risk putting "scabs" on the air in a contract year...
    Last edited by ensco; 12-30-2020 at 03:31 PM.
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    The "you should read the room, you players" discussion is going to be hard to avoid, unfortunately.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OgtheDim View Post
    The "you should read the room, you players" discussion is going to be hard to avoid, unfortunately.
    Completely agree. It’s not a good spot to be as the public’s comprehension of issues these days has been boiled down to bumper sticker slogans. Nuanced discussion about why the players are already doing their part is unlikely to win much sympathy,

    I am genuinely curious what ownership thinks they are going to get out of this. Be it simply pay cuts and expense reductions for 2021 or something that holds thereafter.

    Personally, if I was in the MLSPU, I’d entertain salary cuts for this year (what choice do you have on this really?) but I’d want something in return. Getting players true free agent status earlier or other bargaining rights would be something salvageable to show the membership and would pay longer term dividends. As the quality of MLS improves, the league will have to loosen these provisions anyway since more talented players are likely to draw interest from abroad and MLS will have their arm twisted to pay a higher market price.

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    https://phillysportsnetwork.com/2021...be-thrown-out/

    30 day clock is on. 28 jan is the last day of 30 day negotiation period

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    https://ca.sports.yahoo.com/news/mls...222758352.html

    So MLS owners are NOT going to ask players to take a paycut. They're going to ask players to extend the agreement an additional two years. I think that's all that needs to be said in order to see that the owners think they'll make a lot of money with the way the CBA is currently set up. Even if they lose a bit in the short term due to COVID.

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    Not quite - the league wants to enshrine the 5% paycut from last year and then have this new version run until 2026 - i.e. until the World Cup in the US & Canada is over.

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    I would be pretty pissed as a player to get that offer. Essentially, you ask me to take a portion of the downside with COVID and then you put me in a position to not capitalize on the upside from the WC in 2026?

    I expect MLSPU to take it and cement their position as the weakest union in professional sports.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OgtheDim View Post
    Not quite - the league wants to enshrine the 5% paycut from last year and then have this new version run until 2026 - i.e. until the World Cup in the US & Canada is over.
    The quote from MLS says “ This proposal will help ensure the long-term health of the league while paying MLS players 100 percent of their salaries.”

    Are they saying 100% of salaries is the 95% they had last season? Or am I missing something?

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    Quote Originally Posted by noxx98 View Post
    The quote from MLS says “ This proposal will help ensure the long-term health of the league while paying MLS players 100 percent of their salaries.”

    Are they saying 100% of salaries is the 95% they had last season? Or am I missing something?
    Exactly. They will pay them 100% of their 95% salary, otherwise, they will pay them 0% of their 95% and hire someone else?

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    Took me a couple of days to think this through. Got distracted by wondering if there would even be a USA in 2025 and 2026.

    Best guess: they must have visibility on the 2022 TV deal, they think they will get something they like for 5 years, and it has impressed them enough that their first priority is to try to protect the existing arrangement for the last two years of the TV deal, 2025 and 2026.

    This is an interesting and clever offer from the owners. Also invoking force majeure but then not trying to cut 2021 salaries is a good bit of theatre, they will have created a bit of a “phew” reaction from players and their spouses.

    The “right” response is probably to offer a 10% reduction in the current deal, leave the term where it is, and have the fight over a much bigger pie in 2024. But how many players are going to even still be in the league in 2025 and 2026?
    Last edited by ensco; 01-09-2021 at 04:21 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ensco View Post
    Took me a couple of days to think this through. Got distracted by wondering if there would even be a USA in 2025 and 2026.

    Best guess: they must have visibility on the 2022 TV deal, they think they will get something they like for 5 years, and it has impressed them enough that their first priority is to try to protect the existing arrangement for the last two years of the TV deal, 2025 and 2026.

    This is an interesting and clever offer from the owners. Also invoking force majeure but then not trying to cut 2021 salaries is a good bit of theatre, they will have created a bit of a “phew” reaction from players and their spouses.

    The “right” response is probably to offer a 10% reduction in the current deal, leave the term where it is, and have the fight over a much bigger pie in 2024. But how many players are going to even still be in the league in 2025 and 2026?
    I think you hit it right on the head. Most players probably don't care beyond couple of years, especially the foreign players and players good/ambitious enough to seek a transfer outside of MLS. The ones really care about CBA is the player's union reps and MLS lifers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wopchop View Post
    Exactly. They will pay them 100% of their 95% salary, otherwise, they will pay them 0% of their 95% and hire someone else?
    Given that last year negotiated a pay cut for 2020, not a continuing one. Paying 100 percent of salary would mean, they will pay the full amount agreed to in each players contracts. There was no mass renegotiation of contracts. All contracts had 5% subtracted from them for 2020. Teams still have contract with players indicating how much they are owed. If they say 100% it would be in relationship the the individually negotiated contracts.

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    A very good read posted on The Athletic (as usual, subscription required):

    https://theathletic.com/2319315/2021...r-perspective/

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    I think that's a decent deal for the players, but maybe they could work in some bonuses that would happen toward the end of the deal once everything's back to normal. (Like maybe sharing in the World Cup money or something).

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    I wonder if they are thinking about waiting for summer to start anyway, seeing as it’s a gate driven business... but doing a big “lockout” kabuki here, just to see what they can get.

    I mean they could lock them out for three months for “free” here, really.

    It would be quite ingenious.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ensco View Post
    I wonder if they are thinking about waiting for summer to start anyway, seeing as it’s a gate driven business... but doing a big “lockout” kabuki here, just to see what they can get.

    I mean they could lock them out for three months for “free” here, really.

    It would be quite ingenious.
    I wonder if the league will really hold their ground on having the two year exertion into 2027 after the World Cup? I can totally see what they are doing by adding the two years, it limits the players to really profit off it, as MLS thru SUM will be making some significant cash. July in my eyes will be the earliest we see the season start and only if they can have a decent enough number of fans in the stands.

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    Added a year but looking for quicker younger free agency


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    Doesn't sound like either side is far off an agreement, they will both drag it out though out of spite for each other.

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    Looking now like the only sticking point is - negotiate next deal in 2026 or 2027.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OgtheDim View Post
    Looking now like the only sticking point is - negotiate next deal in 2026 or 2027.
    Is it just me (admittedly, I’m unionized) or does this just seem like unmitigated greed? I don’t expect owners to take a huge bath while the players enjoy themselves (obviously not happening), but sharing the pain and the profits seems like the right move for both parties. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like the owners appreciate the sacrifice players made last year, putting their well-being on the line to keep a profitable business going. I know the owners lost money, but is anyone of their businesses in any real danger or is it just the loss of profits?
    I can’t help but remember a story my father told me 20 years ago about a Canadian bank VP confiding in him that the bank was actively misrepresenting lost income, by over stating profit projections, to justify laying off employees every year. Which they did for years until the employee pool was too small to layoff anyone else. Granted, new technology was available that made the layoffs possible, but the banks profits have risen steadily every year since the started the process.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kamp Berg View Post
    Is it just me (admittedly, I’m unionized) or does this just seem like unmitigated greed? .
    Yup - strategic thinking by a bunch of guys who want 2026 to be their launching point for new projects.

    As some have said, if the CBA is voided through force majeure, these guys can go anywhere.

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    Do the owners want a season.......?
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