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Report: MLS owners threatening lockout of players

MLS owners and players are trying to figure out a restart for the league. We break down the latest issues arising in negotiations.

Two players competing for the ball during the Florida Cup soccer match between the New York City FC and Corinthians on January 15, 2020 at Explorer Stadium in Orlando, FL. Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Major League Soccer owners and players have been negotiating terms for a 26-team tournament in Orlando to replace the 2020 regular season. The players’ union is on board with a tournament, but is working to negotiate some changes to the economics during the pandemic. Now, ESPN soccer reporter Jeff Carlisle is reporting owners are refusing to budge on their prior offer and threatening to lock out the players if they do not agree to it by noon ET on Tuesday.

The MLS Players Association tweeted over the weekend that their offer includes “salary reductions across the entire player pool, reduced team and individual bonuses, and additional concessions to existing and future terms of the CBA.”

The offer includes a one-year extension of the CBA to 2025, and Carlisle is reporting that if the deal were approved by MLS, it “would push the total amount of concessions the MLSPA is making well beyond the $100 million contained in the union’s previous proposal last Friday.”

One big sticking point, according to Carlisle, is the force majeure clause in the CBA. A force majeure clause allows either side to back out of the deal in the case of a catastrophic event — such as a pandemic. The owners’ proposal would give it the right to invoke the clause if five teams suffer an attendance drop of 25 percent or more from the previous year, while the MLSPA’s does not include that option, according to Carlisle.

Carlisle report on a variety of issues that have not been settled, and we’ll have a better idea on Tuesday after 12 p.m. ET whether or not this is going to get uglier.