Toronto FC: MLS reportedly set to lock out players

MLS Commissioner Don Garber. (Photo by Andy Mead/ISI Photos/Getty Images)
MLS Commissioner Don Garber. (Photo by Andy Mead/ISI Photos/Getty Images) /

Despite the MLSPA agreeing to various aspects of a modified CBA, ESPN is reporting that Toronto FC and the rest of the league’s players will be locked out by MLS if they do not agree to the remaining proposals.

Toronto FC fans were likely optimistic about seeing their team play again soon, with all the information coming out recently in respect of negotiations between the MLSPA and the league. Unfortunately for them and all other supporters this positive vibe has now seemingly disappeared, with ESPN‘s Jeff Carlisle reporting that MLS is set to lock the players out.

This is an unfortunate turn of events, especially when it seemed discussion were going well. Case in point being this release from the MLSPA official Twitter account on Sunday:

However, as per Carlisle, MLS rejected the counter proposal, stating the players association has already received their best offer and they will not budge any further. The players now apparently have until noon ET on Tuesday to accept the league’s proposal, or they will be locked out.

Unsurprising, one of the main obstacles is proposed salary cuts. The MLSPA is willing to accept a 7.5 percent reduction but the league has countered with 8.75 percent, an infuriatingly close but obviously crucial difference.

Whereas MLB players are receiving criticism for their part in stalled negotiations to start the baseball season, it is easier to sympathize with their MLS counterparts. (By the way, we still perceive the majority of the blame on the part of the owners in respect of the MLB standoff.) Consider the league’s stance in respect of the revenue sharing agreement, which is connected to the new broadcast rights deal that will start in 2023.

As reported by Carlisle, the league wants to significantly cut revenue sharing which was previously agreed at ’25 percent of the net increase in media revenue that exceeds $100 million above 2022 levels (pre-new deal)’. As per the CBA which was agreed in March, this money would be funneled into salary budget and General Allocation Money on a per team basis.

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However, the league now wants this to drop to just 10 percent, compared to the players’ counter-offer of 17 percent. Even though this would only be for the first year of the agreement in 2023, it stills appears that the MLSPA is being more reasonable than the owners.

If that isn’t enough to frustrate MLS fans, consider the force majeure clause which would allow either side to back out of the modified CBA in the case of unforeseen circumstances. As per Carlisle, the league’s proposal allows them to use this clause if five teams suffer an attendance drop of 25 percent from the previous year.

Undoubtedly this has all been influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic and the potential long-term ramifications. However, the players association doesn’t have a similar proviso as part of the league’s offer, which is just asinine.

Overall, from an objective perspective, it really does seem like the players association is being more reasonable that the owners. However, do not expect any public perception to influence the league’s position, which unfortunately could mean the players being locked out if they do not accept the proposal on the table.

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What is your take on the latest reported developments? Are you concerned about a potential lockout, or are you confident the league and players will come to terms sooner than later? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.