Major League Soccer and the Major League Soccer Players Association are still in the process of ratifying the newly agreed-upon collective bargaining agreement, according to MLSPA executive director Bob Foose.
“We finalized our negotiation with the league by signing a term sheet. Our respective legal teams are now in the process of converting that agreement into a fully revised CBA. We don’t yet have an estimate of when that process will be completed, but as soon as it is we will release the final document publicly,” Foose said in an email shortly after sports league began to feel the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
While the players association and MLS have reported no issues working out how to handle the pandemic, the absence of a contract governing compensation or conditions in which a season would be played could be more of a challenge the longer the spread of coronavirus shuts down normal American life.
MLS and the MLSPA agreed to a new CBA in principle in February, covering five full seasons from 2020 through 2024. The deal was agreed to 24 days before the 2020 season began, which has come to a temporary halt because of the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 has spread globally and has brought most of the sports world to a sudden halt.
The 2020 MLS season was just in its third week when the league decided to suspend play for at least 30 days while determining the best course of action in regard to the virus outbreak. All other domestic soccer leagues, including the NWSL, USL Championship and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, are on hold as well.
European leagues such as the Premier League, Serie A and La Liga have also decided to suspend their respective leagues. The NBA was the first league in the U.S. to elect to halt its season after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. Since then, several other NBA players have tested positive, including Kevin Durant.
A Japanese soccer official, who was in Orlando and New York for the SheBelieves Cup, tested positive for COVID-19.
MLSPA officials said they are focused on making sure players are safe as the pandemic continues to spread.
“We are working very closely with the league across many levels. Right now our collective focus is on keeping players and staff safe and healthy. At some point, hopefully soon, we will get back to other business, but that’s not happening right now. We are confident that our partnership with the league will continue to be strong,” an MLSPA spokesperson wrote in an email.
Highlights in the new CBA include increased investment in player spending, greater salary budget flexibility across rosters, players sharing in media revenue, an increase in charter flights and expanded free agency.
The new CBA is set to expire in January 2025, and the previous CBA, which ran from 2015-19, was extended a week to Feb. 7 so both sides could continue to negotiate a new deal.
“As we prepare to celebrate our 25th season, we are very pleased to finalize a new five-year Collective Bargaining Agreement with our players,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said in a statement when the deal was struck. “This agreement addresses key strategic priorities for the league and our players while also retaining the basic player compensation structure that has been the foundation for the growth and stability of Major League Soccer.
“We had constructive, positive discussions with the leadership of the MLSPA and the players’ bargaining committee during the negotiations over the last few months and I would like to thank them for their collaboration in concluding an agreement that will serve as the foundation for a new era of partnership with our players.”