October 30, 2019 Atlanta: Toronto FC midfielder Nick DeLeon takes the ball away from Atlanta United midfielder Julian Gressel (right) and scores the winning goal for a 2-1 victory in the Eastern Conference Final on Wednesday, October 30, 2019, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton

MLS players union provides updates on CBA negotiations

The MLS Players Association provided Thursday updates about how its negotiations with MLS are going. The Collective Bargaining Agreement between the two parties expires Jan. 31. MLSPA Executive Director Bob Foose said there’s a chance that the players could continue to train with clubs after that date if a deal isn’t yet complete, but it’s not preferable. 

If there is a work stoppage, either initiated by the league or the MLSPA, it puts participation in the Champions League in danger. Atlanta United is scheduled to compete in its second consecutive Champions League in 2020. The tournament begins in mid-February.

There wasn’t a lot of news coming out of Thursday’s teleconference. Here are the bullet points:

The players are preparing to strike, if necessary, which is something The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in August.

“We’re certainly prepared for that,” Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan said at the team’s training facility on Thursday. “We’re certainly aware and united on that front and understand that this is an important time for the players of this league and for the league in general to take massive steps forward. When it comes to the work stoppage, we’re prepared, we’re together, the conversations that are being had inside of our locker room, with other players around the league have certainly gone well on that side. We don’t want it to get to that point, but at the same time, if it has to go there then it has to go there.”

Higher wages. In 2019, a senior level, non-DP had an average salary of almost $350,000.

Simplification of compensation, which means elimination of Designated Players, Targeted Allocation Money and General Allocation Money.

Increase in charter flights for games. Teams are allowed a maximum of four per season under the current CBA.

Relaxed qualifications for free agency. The current CBA requires players to be at least 28 years old or have at least eight years in the league and not be under contract.

Shared revenue from media rights deals. New deals will start in 2023. The current deal was worth $90 million.

There hasn’t been talk of changing the number of International slots for each team;

“If I’m an owner I would be receptive, too,” Atlanta United’s Jeff Larentowicz said. Larentowicz is an Executive Board member on the MLPSA. “I’m looking at an investment that, in the grand scheme of things, is very low risk. The league continues to improve. If you are in the league as an investment you want it to improve. So what’s the best way to improve it? Take care of the players. That’s the product.

“Again, if I’m an owner I’m into that. Why wouldn’t I want my players compensated so that they can perform at their best and travel the way they should, and why wouldn’t I want the ability to sign as many good players as I can in an open market? 

“If I were an owner that’s how I would feel, too. But the dynamics are different. You have the players on one side and the league leadership and owners (on the other). I feel the ownership is a bit split in terms of who wants what. So, it comes down to them to find some common ground. The players know exactly where they stand.”

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