Major League Soccer is awaiting a vote from its players regarding a return-to-play proposal that could end the suspension of the MLS season and avoid a lockout, according to reporting by The Athletic.
Sources told the online news site the full player vote should be completed Wednesday morning. If approved, the league would resume this month with a tournament-style conclusion to its 2020 season with all matches played at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and aired by the network.
The league’s players, including those from Sounders FC, did not participate in voluntary, individualized training sessions the past two days in protest of MLS’s lockout threat.
MLS suspended its season March 12 to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Its 26 teams played two matches each.
The Washington Post, The Athletic and ESPN were the first to report details about ways the league and the MLS Players Association were negotiating to restart the season amid the pandemic. The Players Association posted its offer on its website late Sunday night.
MLS responded with a threat of locking the players out if they didn’t accept the league’s proposed terms. However, MLS then sent a revised plan that removed language from a “force majeure clause that was tied specifically to attendance decreases in MLS markets,” The Athletic states. The clause which players initially accepted was to allow either party to dissolve an agreement if circumstances beyond either side’s control occurred.
The league also wanted a decrease in the percentage of media-rights revenue share for the players in 2023, which was part of the new collective bargaining agreement announced in February.
According to The Athletic, the ” ‘Incremental Media Revenue’ (IMR), was designed to insert a percentage of the net increase in media revenue that exceeds $100 million above 2022 levels into the salary budget and general allocation money. The players were supposed to receive 25 percent in 2023 and 2024. The league’s latest proposal would drop that percentage in 2023 to 12.5 percent, according to a source. ESPN reported the league’s previous offer asked players to take just 10 percent of that revenue share in 2023. Players then countered with an offer of 17 percent in 2023 and 25 percent in 2024.”
The players did agree to a 7.5 percent reduction in pay for the remainder of the season, according to The Athletic. MLS wanted a percentage point higher.
The tournament mirrors the National Women’s Soccer League’s Challenge Cup to run June 27-July 26 in Utah.
MLS teams would arrive in Orlando on June 24 for a two-week training camp. The respective clubs would then play three group-stage matches to advance to a knockout round, according to multiple reports. Fans will not be permitted.
The Sounders won the 2019 MLS Cup last fall. Their last 2020 match was March 7. The club returned to individual training last month.