MLS announced Friday it’s suspending its season until June 8.
The league softened the blow to its fans by announcing earlier this week it’s “extremely unlikely” games would resume May 10 due to safety concerns regarding the coronavirus pandemic. The 26 teams played two matches each, Sounders FC’s last being March 7 against the Columbus Crew SC at CenturyLink Field.
“MLS remains focused on exploring a wide variety of formats for playing the entire 2020 season including pushing back MLS Cup into December or later,” the league stated in a news release. “Based on the most recent government guidance, we have extended the moratorium.”
The Sports Business Journal and The Athletic were the first to report a targeted return date of the second week in June. ESPN reported Friday the league is communicating with the MLS Players Association regarding significant pay cuts to offset losses from the season suspension.
MLS top executives have already had their pay decreased, commissioner Don Garber’s by 25 percent.
According to ESPN, the league wants players to take a 50 percent pay cut only if games are canceled. Whether matches are played in front of fans and amount of games could also determine pay.
ESPN’s sources noted players making less than $100,000 would not be affected and no salary higher than $100,000 would fall below that benchmark. The league’s deal could potentially reduce total player compensation by $150,000 for the 2020 season, according to ESPN.
MLS and the Players Association reached an agreement on a new collective-bargaining agreement in February that drastically improved pay but it wasn’t officially ratified due to the abrupt suspension in March. The CBA did not include guidelines for player compensation that aligns with a crisis such as this pandemic.
“Like all leagues, we are in discussion with our players about changes to player compensation due to the financial impact on the league and our clubs from the COVID-19 crisis,” MLS stated in the release. “We are seeking to work collaboratively with the MLSPA to find a solution that provides a safety net for all players, opportunity to earn full salary in the scenario where all matches are played with fans, and in particular provide protection for the players at the lower end of the salary scale.”
The league placed a moratorium on all training beginning March 12. Teams are permitted to use their facilities only for players requiring treatment or rehabilitation. All players were to remain in their respective team cities, exemptions being considered for some U.S. travel.