Report: MLS in discussions with players union over salary slash

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According to a report by ESPN FC journalist Jeff Carlisle, Major League Soccer have engaged in discussions with the players’ union regarding a potentially drastic salary reduction to help accommodate the financial situation through the coronavirus shutdown.

Carlisle cited deputy commissioner Mark Abbott with confirmation of the talks as well as an extension of the shutdown through early June.

“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,” Abbot said. “Based on the most recent government guidance, we have extended the moratorium on matches until at least June 8. 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. 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 provides protection for the players at the lower end of the salary scale.”

Carlisle reports that MLS commissioner Don Garber, Abbott, and the MLSPA executive board were present during the meeting. While other topics were reportedly covered in the discussions, including different scenarios for returning to play and how the competition would be structured, there were also salary reduction talks which included a suggestion by the league of a 50% cut, although that significant of a slash would only be enacted in the event of total season cancellation. That number would serve as the base, with increases for how much of the season is potentially played out. Carlisle also reports that playing games behind closed doors would likely affect the amount of the salary reduction given that teams would not be receiving gate admission income. Finally, a $100,000 threshold was proposed, with players making under that amount per year not affected and players making over that amount not allowed to fall below that total.

The report states that neither the old Collective Bargaining Agreement nor the one agreed to – but never ratified – in February contains a clause allowing the league to stop salaries altogether in the event of a catastrophic event.

MLS eventually released a statement confirming the June 8 date and announcing continued discussions with the players’ union.