MLS bypasses lockout with new work agreement and return plan

MLS bypasses lockout with new work agreement and return plan

Major League Soccer and its players union reached an agreement that allows play to resume with a summer tournament in Florida after the break caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The deal was announced by the Major League Soccer Players Association early Wednesday after tense talks led some players to skip volunteer workouts and the league threatened with a lockout.

MLS and the union agreed on a Feb. 6 five-year employment contract, but the deal had not been ratified when the season ended on March 12, after each team had played only two games.

The deal was announced after the murder of George Floyd sparked sometimes violent protests across the United States about police brutality and injustice against African-Americans.

“There are problems that we collectively face that are both more urgent and more important than competing in the field,” the union said in a statement. “We hope that our return to the field will allow fans a momentary release and an appearance of normality.”

The revised CBA, a six-year deal through 2025, includes general pay cuts and reduced bonuses. The union said the players had ratified the deal.

The details of the Florida tournament were still being finalized. The 26 teams and limited league staff would be based in the Orlando area and matches would be played without fans at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World.

MLS and the union had been negotiating cuts, and some teams had said they would resume training sessions for small outdoor volunteer groups. The Atlanta, Miami, Minnesota and Vancouver players did not show up for voluntary training on Monday.

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