MLS on strike and why cooler heads must prevail and how it effects the Holden signing…..

Can you imagine if MLS went on strike? What a disaster it would be for the sport and what a disaster it would be for the league.
More spiteful jokes would hit Saturday night live and the mainstream sports media would have a field day with this so called “foreign” sport.

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My hope is that both the players union and MLS will keep to their senses and make sure that lawyers and advisors don’t take over the negotiation concerning the collective bargaining agreement that runs out at the end of January. Sure players want a larger salary cap and of course the main point would like to see MLS conform to FIFA regulations fully when it comes to contracts. I agree.
There should be a move in this direction in my opinion but with MLS losing talented players like Chris Rolfe, Yura Movsisyan, Ricardo Clark and potentially others, how will they be able to keep players in MLS? This is how they see it.
I do think that locking players initially into a four year contract is a bit much but from a league perspective it keeps players like a Geoff Cameron of the Dynamo who blossoms quickly from jumping ship or demanding a higher salary. I would assume the Dynamo and the league have come to Cameron with a pay raise after making the MLS best 11.
The players union also must realized that the league has improved but not arrived. Clubs have not made headway in Colorado, Dallas, Kansas City and other markets.
Yes it was a great year in Toronto, LA and Seattle for sure…….

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If there was a work stoppage in MLS think how it would effect any MLS player trying to make the World Cup squad, if you weren’t playing regular football, why would National team manager Bob Bradley think you can play in a World Cup? This is another defining time for MLS and I hope that they take a quick crash course on the NHL and how a work stoppage worked for them……………….By the way, Stuart Holden has been mentioned with Blackburn as his agent is Euro based. Would it be wise for Holden to leave if in fact he believes the players union would strike in February. This is more complicated than maybe we know and MLS Commissioner Don Garber must be feeling the pressure like others……

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Here is an excerpt from a blog by Kasey Keller who if you remembered negotiated a long time to come back to MLS. He once told me MLS ‘did not want to pay goalkeepers’.

KELLER: “You will probably start to read more and more about the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that is up at the end of the month. Negotiations have been under way between the players union and MLS for some time now. I wish I could report that we were close to signing an agreement, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. As players we have been told or a probable lockout date of Feb. 1st. What’s most disapointing to me is, this isn’t a negotiation for a bunch of players wanting 8 million a year instead of 7 million a year. The main points revolve around us being given the same rights under FIFA as the rest of the players around the world. As an MLS player you have to sign away your FIFA rights before you are allowed to sign your contract.”

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Comments

  1. Kirk says:

    Wouldn’t it be great if the fans were represented in this negotioation. The Players have a voice, the owners, how about getting fans involved. We may not have a direct financial stake, but we are the audience that both players and owners need to attract and keep. Our dollars fund the salaries of players and contribute the profits that owners are ultimately looking for. Why not include us in the process. We might not get a vote but I would love if fans could be in the room making both sides be reasonable….. Think about the good press that would generate. “MLS and Players include Fans in negotiation.” it would be unprecedented and a PR coup!

  2. cj says:

    Glenn, a lockout or strike is a “lose/lose/lose” for everyone. The momentum for growing the MLS will be at a stand still and the MLS does not want to just be a footnote in history. If players get locked out nobody will care about it ultimately. The only people who get hurt is the players/owners and fans. There are some die hard fans that will miss it but most fans will just watch the EPL or go back watching mainstream sports. The MLS has a hard enough time getting fans as it is. Every strike or lockout is bad for the sport. I hope the players and owners are talking to the NHL to tell them how their last strike turned out. They still have not recovered.
    We have a 2010 World Cup that will have more interest in the US than any other World Cup. We have ESPN putting all their weight behind it, we have a domestic player who is now making multi-million dollars in the MLS. We have a lot going going for us in this country as far as soccer is concerned. The MLS players and owners could ultimately ruin all of this momentum in 2010. There is a tremendous growth potential for the MLS in the coming years and if the US gets the World Cup in 2018 or 2022 this sport will be up as the 3rd or 4th biggest sport in this country with a lot of people including ex-players getting paid a lot of money (ie front office positions, coaches etc.) if we look at the long term outlook of this sport.

    Owners and players put your egos aside and get a deal hashed out for the LOVE OF THE SPORT!!!

  3. glenndavis says:

    Kirk and CJ….great comments. I agree that the time is not now for a strike but I am sure the posturing is coming from both sides.

  4. wren says:

    Glenn,
    By now, I’m sure both the league and players realize their place on the American sports (and entertainment) landscape and hopefully both parties realize that a work stoppage at this time and place benefits no one. Let’s just hope the league never hires day Gary Bettman and the players never hire Donald Fehr.

    That said, what league genius thought it would be a good idea to schedule the end of the current CBA just months before the World Cup? My sense is they thought this would provide more leverage but it could go Pete Tong on them in a hurry. Clearly MLS did not want it to extend AFTER the World Cup when interest in football would be at its highest in the U.S., thus favoring the players, but in my opinion, this is another example of poor planning in a series of missteps from the league. The timing alone creates a whole host of domestic MLS and international USMNT issues that could have been avoided at this time last year. Did the Don somehow miss that the World Cup 2010 has been on the global football calendar…SINCE 1930!

    Memo to MLS. The world has this little football gathering every four years (the next one is in 2014 btw). Play your cards right and it can SEVERELY IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS. Play them wrong and you will exacerbate the Mickey Mouse reputation you have around the world.

    Here’s hoping the league and players use this as an opportunity to create interest in MLS and football as we slide into the next season and World Cup because creating a roadblock would be a disaster.

  5. GT says:

    Geez, Glenn, this white-on-red color scheme is VERY hard on the eyes. Don’t you want your work to be inviting to the average reader? Come on, man!

  6. Donjuego says:

    A strike is the only leverage the players have.

    If you say there should be no strike — then you are siding with the owners 100%. Saying otherwise is naive.

    Yes a strike would be disastrous. But if the owners are not reasonable then the players must strike.

    I stand with the players.

  7. k1p says:

    wren, nice with the “it’s all gone a bit Pete Tong” reference!

    I agree that a strike would be detrimental to the league. That being said, what else can the players do? I stand, as does Donjuego, squarely with the players. I understand that MLS needs to grow more to create the type of salary caps we all want to see, but MLS should align with FIFA in the area of transfers. This clause helped to grow MLS and was favorable to the owners, who took a big risk getting this league started, but now the time has come to rescind this article and allow normal FIFA transfers. Without this guarantee, many more US based players will choose to play in lower level foreign leagues instead of in the MLS.

  8. cj says:

    A lot of detail on the sticking points in this article:

    Sounders FC players fear a lockout in February
    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/sounders/2010536653_sounders18.html

    So after all that has been written, it seems that the players sticking points are.

    1. Guaranteed Contracts
    2. Free Agency
    3. More team autonomy on personnel.

    That was the first time I have seen any dollar amount attached to the negotiations. And I think the players are aiming a bit to low with a 2.7 mil cap.

    The rhetoric is being cranked up a bit. From the article:

    (James) Riley outlined what the union seeks in the negotiations. He said there has been a union proposal followed by a league counter proposal that addressed economic issues but not player rights, which is the main sticking point for players.

    \

  9. Bobz says:

    “Affects”

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