After a 12-week shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, MLS and the MLS Players Association came to an agreement on an amended Collective Bargaining Agreement and economic concessions for the 2020 season on Wednesday, which is expected to pave the way for a formal plan for the league to return to action in the coming weeks.
With the threat of a lockout looming, players reportedly agreed to conceding over $100 million this year, including a flat pay cut moving forward for this year for all players, and a total cap on bonuses. Meanwhile, the CBA terms will shift a year, to end Jan 2026, and the force majeure clause will not be tied to attendance figures, as originally proposed.
Here is the full MLSPA announcement:
The agreement between the league and the MLSPA is only the beginning, as the full announcement regarding return to play is expected in the coming days. The plan will be for teams to head to Orlando for a centralized tournament, arriving around June 24 and staying around six weeks, the tournament itself to last just over a month. While there, all clubs would play in a three-game group stage, and then top finishers would progress to a knockout stage, so basically a World Cup format.
MLS commissioner Don Garber told reporters Wednesday players will only be able to opt out of the Orlando tournament under specific, as-yet-unannounced conditions. This is important because there have been reports Chicharito is not enthused about the Orlando tournament, due at least in part to having a pregnant wife and a young child at home. It is unclear if he will or will not be able to opt out, or if he wants to opt out at this point. That is to be determined.
From there, the reported expectation is teams will continue to play following the tournament at their home grounds, behind closed doors. The ultimate length of the season and the playoff format remains to be determined.
The agreement came together with negotiations taking a turn in recent days. After players agreed to a proposal, the league reportedly asked for further financial and Collective Bargaining Agreement concessions, which the players did not want to agree to, per ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle. The league threatened a lockout on Tuesday, then pushed the deadline to Wednesday, while players refused to turn up for training that is officially deemed voluntary in response on Monday and Tuesday.
We’ll have details of the return to play plan when they are formally revealed. At this point the reports circulating are reputable, and it will be a matter of the league confirming them and filling in the gaps as far as details. We’ll keep you posted.
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