The Journal Gazette
Thursday, June 04, 2020 1:00 am

MLS, union agree to contract, resumption

ANNE M. PETERSON | Associated Press

Major League Soccer and its players' union agreed to a six-year labor contract through 2025 that paves the way for a tournament in Florida after the season was suspended by the coronavirus pandemic.

The deal was announced Wednesday following tense talks that led to some players skipping voluntary workouts and the league threatening a lockout.

MLS and the Major League Soccer Players Association agreed Feb. 6 to a five-year labor contract, but the deal had not been ratified when the season was stopped March 12 after only two matches had been played by each team.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber said the league expects to take a $1 billion revenue hit because of the coronavirus.

Players agreed to a 7.5% salary reduction starting with the May 31 payroll and a $5 million cap on team and individual performance bonuses, a person familiar with the agreement said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because those details were not announced.

Terms of the deal agreed to in February were pushed back for one year. This year's planned minimum salaries of $81,375 for senior roster players and $63,547 for reserve roster players will be pushed back to 2021. The gradual rise to $109,200/$85,502 will not be complete until 2025.

One of the sticking points was a provision that allows either side to opt out of the deal because of unforeseen circumstances, like a pandemic. The agreement does not tie the clause to attendance, something the league had sought.

The agreement also changes the players' share of media rights negotiated in the original CBA. The share will drop from 25% to 12.5% in 2023, but will be restored to 25% in 2024.

Details of the Florida tournament are still being finalized. The league's 26 teams and limited staff would be based in the Orlando area and matches played without fans at ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World.

Garber said the tournament would last no longer than 35 days but he did not reveal additional details. Earlier indications were that the tournament would last some two months.

Report: WNBA close to decision

Two people familiar with the situation say the WNBA plans to hold games at just one location if there is a season this year and that the MGM Resorts in Las Vegas and the IMG Academy in Florida are the top candidates.

There is still not date when the 2020 season will tip off.

The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the possible locations haven't been publicly announced.

Details of the logistics of how the league and its 12 teams would operate at either location remain unclear.

Commissioner Cathy Engelbert told the AP on Tuesday that the league has talked about a number of options, but declined to confirm whether IMG Academy or MGM topped the list of possible destinations.

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