MIAMI, Fla. — (20 May 2020) As domestic soccer continues to be in a holding pattern, clubs and leagues alike need to make adjustments to deal with their new financial situations. The USL Championship is no differnet. In ongoing discussions between the league and its players, the USL Players Association has sent a counter proposal back to the USL Championship.
In a press release, the USLPA announced it had unaminously voted to reject the USL’s proposed economic relief which involves “extreme wage decreases.”
“Many USL players earn less than a livable wage, which has been a driving factor for the USLPA’s push for a minimum salary,” a statement on the press release said.
The USLPA claims that the standard player contracts are “valid, enforceable and guaranteed contracts throughout their entire term whether there is a playing season or not.”
The association has offered to take a 10-percent pay cut on the remaining wages for the season that are above $2,000 a month, as long as there was consideration for three factors: 1) the USL matching the players’ salary cuts; 2) the clubs agreeing to a minimum salary of $20,000 starting in 2021; and 3) the league agreeing to increase its bargaining frequency to every 14 days until a collective bargaining agreement is reached.
An unnamed spokesperson for USL provided the following statement:
“The request to the USLPA for consideration of a compensation adjustment was not an easy one, and only taken as a last resort. COVID-19 has brought with it serious economic hardship for people and industries all over the country and our clubs have not been immune to that. We welcome further conversation with the USLPA about reasonable steps that can be taken to help ensure we’re in the best position possible to bring professional soccer to our communities in 2020.”
According to a May 9th story in the Athletic, the league office sent two documents to each club. The first document outlines “Return-to-Play Protocols.” Therein, the league is granted exclusive authority to institute measures in order to resume the 2020 season. At the same time, “the USLPA expressly waives its statutory right to bargain over such Return-to-Play Protocols.” According to the document, the league will retain this power “during the term of the collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) (or, in the absence thereof…through December 31, 2021).”
As part of return to play measures, the document outlines procedures to test players to ensure full health and safety while requiring each player to have a detailed medical file confidentially held by their club.
The second document is a force majeure clause that would go into effect if the 2020 USL Championship season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More on what this force majeure entails can be found here.
The USL Championship and the USLPA are still without their first CBA, despite the fact that the USL voluntarily recognised the USLPA in 2018.
The USL Players Association was founded in January of 2018. In November of 2019, the United Soccer League (“USL”) formally recognized the USLPA as the collective bargaining agent for all USL Championship players, as authorised by USL Championship Players. In February of 2020, the USL formally recognized the USLPA as the collective bargaining agent for all USL League One players, as authorised by USL League One players. The USLPA represents players who are a party to a USL standard player contract. It does not represent players who are a party to an academy or loan contract.