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MLS, Players Association extend CBA a week as negotiations continue

The current deal was set to expire Friday

Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber and the MLS Players Association announced the extension of the current collective bargaining agreement by one week. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

Major League Soccer and the MLS Players Association have extended their collective bargaining agreement to Feb. 7 as they continue labor negotiations. 

The current agreement originally expired Friday, so there is now an additional week to work out a new deal. 

“The two groups have engaged in productive discussions and will continue to negotiate a new CBA,” read a joint statement issued by the organizations around noon Thursday.

Of the many issues being negotiated, one of the most publicized and talked about among players is the increased use of charter flights for teams during road trips. That became a hot topic during the 2019 season. 

“Charters aren’t about skipping the lines, better meals, or flying in fancy planes,” Philadelphia Union captain Alejandro Bedoya said in a conference call with reporters in November. “I’m passionate about travel. For me it’s an important point. Charter flights are a huge player benefit.”

In addition, the MLSPA is seeking to widen free agent criteria. Current rules grant free agency to a small percentage of players – mainly those who are at least 28 years old with six years in the league. That was considered the ‘watershed moment‘ of the last CBA, which was agreed on just two days before the start of the 2015 season. 

“We’re well short of what’s adequate,” MLSPA executive director Bob Foose said in November. “There’s a long way to go and we want to see free agency opened up. We want to see a system of true, unrestricted free agency at a much earlier point in players’ careers.”

The players also want to eliminate allocation money and fold those funds into team’s salary budgets without restricting as well as more benefits, like health insurance and retirement plans and increased performance bonuses as laid out on the MLSPA website.

“The problem becomes, will the owners be willing to spend more money if there is no TAM, or is TAM actually helping?” NYCFC goalkeeper Brad Stuver told Pro Soccer USA. Stuver is a member of the bargaining committee. “Me personally, I would want the money to be in one pool, and then I can spend it how I want instead of having those restrictions. If the GMs and the clubs don’t make the most of that money, then that’s on them.”

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