MLS, players agree on plan to resume season

Houston, Jun 3 (efe-epa).- The Major League Soccer Players Association announced Wednesday that negotiations with the league resulted in an accord permitting the 2020 season to resume.

“MLS Players today ratified a new collective bargaining agreement, which will run through the 2025 season,” the MLSPA said in a statement. “Today’s vote also finalizes a plan to resume the 2020 season and provides players with certainty for the months ahead. It allows our members to move forward and continue to compete in the game they love.”

The league and the association reached consensus on a new contract in February, before the start of the season, but the suspension of play in mid-March prompted the MLS to ask players to accept pay cuts to make up for the lost revenue.

With negotiations still in progress, the MLS threatened earlier this week to lock the players out if they didn’t immediately accept the proposed terms.

The threat spurred criticism and the league extended its deadline to allow for additional talks.

While neither the league nor the MLSPA disclosed the terms, US media outlets reported that players accepted a 7.5 percent pay cut effective May 31, less than the 8.75 percent reduction sought by club owners.

The association likewise agreed that performance and individual bonuses will be capped at $5 million for the 2020 season, while the salary increases mandated in the February contract are to be delayed until 2021.

Another concession saw the MLSPA limit players’ share of revenue from a potential new television deal to 12.5 percent of any net increase of more than $100 million.

“Collectively, we will work to get back to play and deliver to our fans and our players the sport they love, MLS Commissioner Don Garber said Wednesday.

“Unlike other leagues whose fan bases are deeply mature and have been around for generations, our absence created a void in their lives and their love and care for our players and our clubs, but clearly our absence from the sports scene, it was crucial for us to get back,” he said.

The re-start of play is to take the form of a tournament in Orlando that will include all 26 MLS teams.

Matches will be played behind closed doors at the ESPN Wide World of Sports facility.

Though clubs have been allowed to resume individual and small-group training, full-team practice will not begin until the squads take up temporary residence in Orlando, which is expected to happen by June 24.

The tournament is likely to begin with a three-game group stage followed by a knockout phase with 16 teams. EFE


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