MLS Return Looms with Players’ Response

Major League Soccer is hoping to return to play on June 24th, according to ESPN and the The Athletic, after the MLSPA sent a proposal to the league for concessions to the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The negotiations, which have been heated according to sources, reached a roadblock when discussing safety measures at the proposed tournament.

The format would see all 26 teams travel to Orlando, Florida for a six-week tournament. Much like the World Cup, everyone will be split into groups and play three games before advancing to a knockout stage. Should this happen, MLS would be the first men’s league to return to play in the United States. NWSL already has their plan in place to resume play with a similar style tournament in Salt Lake City, Utah.

One of the more contentious points during the negotiations revolved around how player safety will be ensured. Testing before each game for COVID-19 was agreed upon. However there was some mystery around whether hotel staff would be tested. This response was not satisfactory and reports are that MLS Commissioner Don Garber was more than displeased over the meetings.

Since their initial talks, MLS has apparently been able to answer the questions from the union although there are still some questions lingering that may hold up the proceedings. Another issue is the inclusion of the three Canadian teams, Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto. Canada has their own quarantine measures that include a 14-day isolation period after returning home. It is something that will need to be worked through before and after the players are able to travel to the United States.

As far as money is concerned, the players have agreed to a 7.5% reduction in salary overall. A total concession of $100 million is expected in order to compensate for lost revenue. Salary increases, initially dictated in the new CBA, will also be delayed to the start of 2021 as the league looks to return to normal after this season.

Whether the proposed start-date can be met remains to be seen. However, there is progress towards a season of some sort for MLS but one that won’t see fans returning to Red Bull Arena or anywhere else in 2020.

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