MIAMI, Fla. — (1 June 2020) The MLS Players Association approved a plan Friday night for a potential return to play, and it has been sent to the league.
The vote by the players association to approve a proposal to send to the league, as a counterproposal to MLS, does not finalise an agreement between the MLSPA and Major League Soccer.
The objective of the league is to return from the COVID-19 suspension by staging a summer tournament in Orlando.
Main point of MLSPA proposal
According to the plan, players would fly to Orlando on June 24. Teams would train for two weeks, then play a three-game group stage followed by knockout rounds. Teams that do not advance to the knockout stage would fly back home. The maximum time teams would be in Orlando is six weeks.
Items not agreed upon yet.
The two sides have yet to agree on a pay cut for the players, as well as modifications to the collective bargaining agreement (‘CBA”) that was decided on in February. According to ESPN, the league asked the MLSPA for a one-year delay to a revenue sharing agreement that is tied to braodcast rights. This was a part of the latest CBA, though it has yet to be ratified by either side.
The players are opposed to agreeing to that one-year delay, and it presents a hurdle in the negotiations.
The Orlando tournament is contingent on having a ratified CBA for 2020 and beyond, as well as final sign-off on the league’s health and safety plan for a return to play.
All eyes now turn to the league. With the players’ proposal in hand, the league can accept the terms or send back another counterproposal.
The MLSPA process.
Once the league’s response to the MLSPA’s proposal is communicated to the players association, the same process the union went through this week starts over. The player representatives of each team communicate the proposal to their teammates, followed by the MLSPA negotiating committee, which is composed of three players from every team, plus the MLSPA executive board, which would meet to decide on a plan of action. That plan then gets voted on by the entire player pool.
The expectation is that talks will be wrapped up in the next few days, with all elements of the negotiations — the CBA, the Orlando plan and the pay cut — be finalised simultaneously.
The league and players’ union have been engaged in negotiations about a potential return to play for several weeks now. The initial proposal included MLS teams flying to Orlando in early June, with several week so f training followed by a group stage with as many as five matches per team beginning on June 22, then a knockout round. That plan would have kept players quarantined in Orlando, and away from their homes and families, for between eight to 10 weeks. The league and the players began negotiations about a shortened tournament earlier this week.
MLS play has been suspended since March 12 due to the COVID-19 crisis. Each team has played only two matches of the 2020 season.