Toronto FC: Major breakthrough means player lockout should be avoided

Don Garber, Commissioner of MLS. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images)
Don Garber, Commissioner of MLS. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images) /

Toronto FC and the rest of the league’s players reportedly won’t be locked out, after a significant step in negotiations regarding a modified collective bargaining agreement.

Just 24 hours ago matters looked bleak for Toronto FC and the rest of Major League Soccer’s players, with the owners set to lock them out. Fortunately for everyone concerned, cooler — and more importantly smarter — heads now seem to have prevailed.

As first reported by ESPN‘s Taylor Twellman, there has been a major breakthrough in negotiations between the league and the MLSPA. As a result, there is now optimism — albeit still cautious at this stage — that a lockout should be avoided.

Twellman added that just one more detail needs to be agreed between the two sides. After this point, the modified collective bargaining agreement can then finally be formally approved.

In truth, we should have never gotten so close to a lockout happening in the first place. It was only because of the stubbornness of the league owners, in contrast to the players association’s genuine and flexible approach to negotiations.

The prime example of this was the official release from the MLSPA on Sunday, which read like a positive sign that negotiations were going well. In their wisdom however, the league rejected the counter proposal and said the players association had already received their best offer.

It was such an obstinate decision, best highlighted by the owners’ proposal to use a force majeure clause if five teams suffer an attendance drop of 25 percent from the previous year. What made this so asinine was that the players association did not have a similar proviso as part of the offer.

As per ESPN‘s Jeff Carlisle however, the league has now softened their stance. Apparently there was some division between the owners in respect of the language of the force majeure clause.

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The two sides are also expected to find some middle ground over proposed salary cuts, a thankful step after being so infuriatingly close on this aspect. As we wrote on Tuesday, the MLSPA was willing to accept a 7.5 percent reduction, while the league had countered with 8.75 percent.

Of course what is most important for TFC fans and the rest of the league’s supporters in all of this, is it means we are a crucial step closer to games. As reported by Carlisle, teams will take part in a tournament in Orlando to mark the league’s return.

The players are set to head to Central Florida around June 24 and would remain there for six weeks. Of course, first things first, the league and players need to actually still officially agree and sign the modified CBA, which now seems more like a matter of when than if.

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What do you make of the latest news regarding the league and players being close to reaching an agreement? Are you optimistic, or going to remain cautious — or even dubious — until the modified CBA is officially signed? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.