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MLS labor negotiations in trouble?

On the surface, the MLS labor situation is not so much a dispute as it is a mere difference of opinion. The sides have been pleasant, cordial, almost vanilla in public (not unlike, say, a midseason match between Colorado and Dallas).

There have been few inflammatory comments made to the media (or in the players' favorite sandbox, Twitter) and clubs have proceeded with preseason training as if a roundly celebrated, 100-year collective bargaining agreement were in place.

Though the previous/current deal expired Jan. 31, the deadline has been extended twice in order to reach a new accord and avoid a work stoppage that, if it were to disrupt the start of the regular season, would, to many, be a public relations setback for a young, evolving league. Growing pains are one thing; picket lines are another.

We're not privy to the conversations .....

and neither the league nor the players' union has been willing to disclose specifics, or for that matter, generalities. (Sorry, unwashed masses, we'll toss you some crumbs when we so choose.) For all we know, 95 percent of the issues have been resolved.

However, players' rights, so to speak -- namely, free agency within MLS and contracts that are honored through the end of the season instead of subject to termination in July -- appear to be the major sticking point. Based on things I've been hearing lately, it is unclear whether a resolution will be reached anytime soon.

One trusted Insider contact who is familiar with, but not involved in, the negotiations said ominously: "The players are 100 percent ready to not play if required. They don't want a strike or lockout, but they aren't willing to be the only ones to compromise to make sure that the a work stoppage doesn't happen. The burden is on the owners to decide if they are also willing to compromise."

The sides will continue talks Wednesday and Thursday in New York.

By Steve Goff  |  February 17, 2010; 10:35 AM ET
Categories:  MLS  
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Comments

What's the compromise here - extending guarantees to veterans only (how ever that is defined)?

Posted by: DetroitTFC | February 17, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I'd guess your source is on the mark. The players and their reps are prepared to compromise, but cannot be the only ones to compromise. If the owners think they're not prepared to walk out, they're in for a surprise. What would they accept? I'm sure they'd be delighted to get some limited free agency...for veterans with a certain number of years in MLS. With a rigid salary cap structure, this should not be a scary prospect for MLS.

As DetroitTFC suggests, contract guarantees for veterans would also be appealing. Because there's no equivalent of the minor-league contracts that baseball teams give to aging/injured veterans trying to reestablish themselves, there's probably a need to have some flexibility, but the players will want some concessions in this area.

Posted by: fischy | February 17, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Translation: MLS Players Union uses Goff to rattle Garber's cage. Good for player morale.

Posted by: dccal | February 17, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

A work stoppage for MLS would be colossally stupid. It would be worse than the NHL, MLB, NFL, and NBA stoppages combined. The league is way too young at this point for such an act. If it happens the league may be committing suicide.

Posted by: croftonpost | February 17, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

"The burden is on the owners to decide if they are also willing to compromise."

Losing millions a year isn't a compromise by the owners?

Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | February 17, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Losing millions a year isn't a compromise by the owners?

Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | February 17, 2010 11:20 AM
__________________________________________

DING DING DING....We have a winner!

Posted by: boda-united | February 17, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

So all the owners are losing millions? You can document that?

If you can't make money on pro soccer in Seattle, say . . . you're doing something wrong.

I just can't believe that the owners are all philanthropists who are losing millions, and have no hopes of making a profit in the near future, out of their love for soccer.

Posted by: fallschurch1 | February 17, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

fallschurch1, the burden of proof is yours. We know United is losing money -- Goff has reported this. Kansas City? Dallas? Colorado? Red Bulls? Real Salt Lake?

Sure, Seattle is looking good, but that doesn't prove your point -- it proves the exception to the rule.

Let's be honest -- these are men playing soccer in a third-tier league. They're not brain surgeons, HIV scientists or Space Shuttle engineers. When they get the TV contracts of the NFL and NBA, they'll get the cash. Until then, they'll have to do with 50k a year working part-time.

Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | February 17, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

ZOINKS!!

Posted by: nairbsod | February 17, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

OT, Heather Mitts apparently got married last weekend, but is still going to the Algarve Cup. Glad to see she has her priorities in order (and her stalkers can hope he falls off one of those sandstone cliffs).

Posted by: troy6 | February 17, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

So all the owners are losing millions? You can document that?

"If you can't make money on pro soccer in Seattle, say . . . you're doing something wrong.

I just can't believe that the owners are all philanthropists who are losing millions, and have no hopes of making a profit in the near future, out of their love for soccer."

The league has a margin call for all teams...so even if a team is profitable, they have to chip to cover the losing teams. A business model which has scared away many investors and sponsors especially in the Philly area. Philly hasn't even started and is hanging on by a thread...


Posted by: LCR-54 | February 17, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

If there is a lockout, what does that do to a player's contract?

Could, say Landon Donovan, sign a contract with Everton immediately without having to wait for the Transfer window to re-open?

Posted by: TCompton | February 17, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

OT but Burch and Wallace BOTH start vs. TFC and BOTH come off at the half. Burch is our LB, people. Wallace is cover for Castillo and maybe central MF.

Posted by: benonthehill | February 17, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

@LCR-54

Huh?

Again - losses are nothing to a good number of team owners in any sport.

The NBA is going to lose $400 million this year, probably lost money last year, and likely to face a serious work stoppage again as players have to accept a new reality and see long-term deals written down or torn up entirely.

The NFL is headed for a similar issue with its CBA.

And Gary Bettman is still in charge of the NHL.

On Free Agency - it's hard for me, right now, to rap my head around the idea of Free Agency in MLS, a single-entity and FIFPro standards. How does it even begin to work. Does your contract have to expire? Do you get a window before? Does your current club have a right to counter or match a deal to keep you?

Free Agency - while it would be good - should only happen so long as MLS Players and Clubs can do so with the transfer system in place. The last thing Fans, Players, Owners, Coaches, etc need is another layer of rules related to players in MLS. I can barely keep track of things now, another layer of complexity might spark an epileptic episode.

"Today around the League, Fred was traded to Colorado for allocation rights, draft picks, and a free agency credit, but then his offer was matched by Toronto before the league just tore up the contract as is and Philadelphia was penalized a warm body and required to run suicides for an hour after training"

[Shivers]

I hope it gets worked out. I just see it being a tough issue on both sides. I would like to see some reward with free movement and the free right to contract with a club that desires your services without the Manhattan office dictating what someone is worth. However, it requires a broader financial risk being farmed out to the clubs, and that presents a reality that we may want, but may not be able to deal with just yet.

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | February 17, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

LCR-54, I believe it's also the model that allows smaller NFL market teams - like a New Orleans - to thrive as well. The bigger market teams provide some cover.

Posted by: nairbsod | February 17, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

"fallschurch1, the burden of proof is yours."

Is not! Is yours!

Anyway, look, obviously I'm the big lefty who will always sympathize with the workers, whereas other folks tend to assume that workers, left to themselves, will run the business into the ground. Fine. The truth is probably in the middle. But I just can't believe all these owners think it's a fine idea to lose money, and keep losing it indefinitely, by buying into MLS. I think owners are smart businesspeople (and you probably do too, right???) who either are making money now, or see profits in the not-too-distant future. And the players understand that and want their fair share, since they are the ones getting the concussions.

I guess another explanation is that losses are okay for owners, because of tax implications. But obviously for at least some like McFarlane [sp?], that was not true.

So come on, are you saying the owners are either soccer-loving philanthropists, or doofuses? I would bet they know what they are doing, and if they wanted to be philanthropists they would just go start a youth league in Haiti or whatever.

Posted by: fallschurch1 | February 17, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

One of the reasons owners are losing money has to be the way front offices are spending. Look at DCU. I know there are stadium issues that cost the team, but someone sits is a rooms and says "Let's give a million dollars to Gallardo." Someone also has to be on the hook for the contracts of Emilio, Gomez, Fred, etc. The owmers get a pass on these contract because of the peanuts they pay to younger players and players with developmental contracts. The solution is to raise the salary cap, give a minumum salary for all league players (50,000), and do away with DP contracts. We should be able to field teams of quality professionals who make between 50-350K. There could be a "franchise player" exception that allows a team to reatain ONE player with a certain number of years of service to the team. If a player wants more than that, they they should go to Europe.

Posted by: rcdwriting | February 17, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

fallschurch1: it would be worth your time to do some research on MLS' financial organization.

MLS is attractive to investor/operators (*not* owners -- no such thing exists in MLS) for one reason: SUM money. Most of the teams lose money on their operations; but I/O shares of the SUM revenues tend to make up for that.

But you're not going to get the League and its I/O's to agree that those external revenues mean MLS players should get more money, any more than the UAW can get GM to agree to pay them more when GM is losing money simply because the owners of GM also own other things that *are* turning a profit.

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | February 17, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

If the players take a hard line on free agency, everyone will lose. The MLSPU can say "we've compromised, and they should compromise too"; but the League and its Investor/Operators will not compromise on single-entity status, since that's the thing that makes buying into MLS comparatively risk-free. The owners *really would* rather see the League go away than get rid of single-entity, not out of stubbornness, but because they're not stupid and don't want to take on more risk.


Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | February 17, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Losing millions a year isn't a compromise by the owners?
Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | February 17, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Amazing how everyone's heart is always ready to bleed for millionaire (and billionaire) owners, but not for the 50k a year guy.

If I have 2 million and I lose 1 million, I still get to keep my mansion. If I have 50k and I lose 25k, I'm hurting a whole lot worse.

Posted by: vivzig | February 17, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

"Is not! Is yours!"

That was very funny. Well in.

This forum is no place for Business 101. My suggestion, fallschurch1 (and I mean this seriously): start your own company, hire your "workers" (I prefer to call them employees, but whathever Che says), operate the business for a while, then get back to us. I think you'll find the experience enlightening.

I did it, and you can, too.

As for Heather Mitts getting married... somebody put out an APB for OWNTF. He'll be driving for the closest bridge abutment.

Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | February 17, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

vivzig: I'm not sure what your point is. Yes, your statement is true, but I can't figure out how it's relevant.

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | February 17, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

If the CBA keeps a relatively low salary cap then free agency would still be pretty restricted. I'd like to see more independent franchises and the lowest salaries increased somewhat. MLS will never be among the top 10 leagues in the world given MLS' current arrangements.

The owners may be losing money but who knows what that actually means? Accountants can make somebody like Donald Trump look like a pauper on paper without having it affect his lifestyle.

MLS' penny-pinching has had a negative effect on quality of play since the league began.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | February 17, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

I do bleed for the players making (and I HATE this term) below a living wage.

I'm only for a bump in the salary cap right no so long as it provides room for making guys not consider USL or Scandanavia. However, a bump in the cap now and an improvement on the bottom makes the top third of the payscale upset because they aren't that much at the top anymore.

In my ideal world, player minimums start at 45k and go up the payscale from there to whatever the maximum is.

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | February 17, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

THe league has a pretty hard salary cap, so I don't see why they cant give on free agency within MLS...

Posted by: targetmedia | February 17, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

The owners may be counting their dimes, but the reality is they won't get any return on their investment if they continue with an economic model that guarantees that MLS will-remain a third-tier league with its puny salary cap. Penny-pinching may work for farmers who are subject to wild price swings for their crops, but the players are the product. And if this crop of young, athletic, but not exactly sizzling players is the best they can afford, then the price of their "product" will not appreciate. The irony of expanded soccer coverage on ESPN, FSC and GOL television, is that the MLS' inferiority stands in stark contrast to the established world leagues. It only makes the educated soccer fan even less likely to attend MLS matches.
If they want to play, the MLS owners have got to pay. A league that has gone from 12 to 10 teams, and now stands on the cusp of 18 teams is a league on the way up. The quality of the MLS players should keep up with that. Otherwise, there is nothing MLS can do to keep the Donovans, Dempseys and Holdens from fleeing. Give them the money and they will stay.

Posted by: dcpsycho | February 17, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

CA Metzler, DCU's own website -- and I'm tempted to write that in all caps, pal, don't make me do it -- describes Will Change as "lead owner:"

http://www.dcunited.com/article/chang-assumes-control-united

But you're right to start your posts with snotty comments about how I need to educate myself -- that's peachy. Yes, I understand the investor setup of MLS -- but many people, like your compadre Rand-al-Thor, use "owner" as shorthand.

I think you'll score more debating points if you're polite.

Anyway, so you're saying the players should not dare ask for their fair share of income if the revenues are "external revenues." Well, they may not buy that explanation.

Posted by: fallschurch1 | February 17, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

"Again - losses are nothing to a good number of team owners in any sport."

naive business commentary...come on, think this one through...

Posted by: LCR-54 | February 17, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

It's true that the initial owners were able to afford their early investments (losses) into MLS because they could use it as a tax write-off.

Posted by: Reignking | February 17, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

If poster suggestions that a work stoppage would end the league are correct, at least the plus side of that is it would solve our stadium problem.

Posted by: seahawkdad | February 17, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

My suggestion, fallschurch1 (and I mean this seriously): start your own company, hire your "workers" (I prefer to call them employees, but whathever Che says), operate the business for a while, then get back to us. I think you'll find the experience enlightening.

--Sounds like I'd find myself weeping into my whiskey, saying "The employees done took me down" and "Ain't no way one employer can make it on his own."

Posted by: fallschurch1 | February 17, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: OWNTF | February 17, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

CBA = DCU Stadium, at this point: zzzzzzzzz...

In actual news (and potentially CBA-related?), DCU announces reserve team friendlies to be played against CP Baltimore, Real Maryland, and the Terps in late March and early April. Open to the public on the RFK training fields. Might have to check those out.

Posted by: VercengetorixII | February 17, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

New, improved website for stalking.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | February 17, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Amazing how everyone's heart is always ready to bleed for millionaire (and billionaire) owners, but not for the 50k a year guy.

If I have 2 million and I lose 1 million, I still get to keep my mansion. If I have 50k and I lose 25k, I'm hurting a whole lot worse.

Posted by: vivzig | February 17, 2010 12:29 PM
===================

You're right, vivzig. My heart is not bleeding for a guy who plays soccer for a living, basically part-time, who makes 50k a year. Not a bad gig if you can get it. But don't extrapolate that to EVERYONE making 50k a year. Different discussion.

Does my heart bleed for the owners? Nope, not for them, either. However, there is PLENTY of supply for players; there is little supply of millionaire owners willing to invest in MLS.

Stick it to the owners all you want. But they're millionaires because they know something about money. We need 'em. Without them, there is no product. You know, that whole "nose despite your face" thing...

Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | February 17, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

i think the MLS players could, on the whole, more easily find other playing opportunities (that would pay them more in some cases) than the Owners/Investors/Partners/whatever could find players to replace the current ones and still put out a quality product. the onus is on the owners to create a product that has value. to do that, they will have to compensate players well enough to attract them to the league. if they can't compensate them, they won't get them and they will go out of business. you don't need to know the structure of MLS single-entity system to know this.

Posted by: dimesmakedollars | February 17, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

So over the last 4 years or so the value of an MLS franchise has gone up about %400 and they are all losing money? Let me me guess in 5 years when the new CBA expires and the cost of a new franchise is $100+ Million they will all still be losing money.

Posted by: csd1 | February 17, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

"But they're millionaires because they know something about money."

i'd be careful about blanket statements like that. plenty of people are millionaires by accident of birth/death and haven't earned anything. even those who do earn it sometimes do so in spite of results - c.f. bonuses for bank executives who were so good at their jobs that they almost took down the entire American economy. i know this isn't a political blog (nor do i wish it to be), so i will say that the assumption of risk is almost all on the part of the owners, but then so are the potential rewards and those rewards will only come if they can deliver a product people are willing to pay for.

Posted by: dimesmakedollars | February 17, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

If the players take a hard line on free agency, everyone will lose. The MLSPU can say "we've compromised, and they should compromise too"; but the League and its Investor/Operators will not compromise on single-entity status, since that's the thing that makes buying into MLS comparatively risk-free. The owners *really would* rather see the League go away than get rid of single-entity, not out of stubbornness, but because they're not stupid and don't want to take on more risk.

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | February 17, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

-------------------------------------------

Metzler - single entity and free agency are not mutually exclusive. You can have free agency in the single entity structure. The only relevance the league's single entity structure has in this discussion is that it is what is protecting MLS from being forced to allow free agency in the first place.

Sure, the single entity structure requires all contracts to be signed with the league (as opposed to with the actual clubs), and will presumably continue to do so, free agency or not. But, the price of the contract is negotiated with the club. Currently, once a player completes a contract with a club or signs with another league and returns, he is not free to move to another club within MLS. His current club maintains his MLS rights indefinitely.

*****

From mlsnet.com:

(IV.) PLAYER RIGHTS

The following explains the status of player rights in specific instances:

OUT OF CONTRACT PLAYERS / OPTIONS NOT PICKED UP: a team retains the right of first refusal to the player indefinitely only if attempts were made to re-sign the player.

DRAFTED BUT NOT SIGNED: a player who was drafted by a particular team through the SuperDraft and did not sign, is placed on that team's "College Protected List" until the second December 31 immediately following the draft in question, after which the team loses the rights to sign the player.

PLAYER TRANSFERRED OUTSIDE MLS: If a team receives allocation money as a result of a player's transfer, the team does not retain a right of first refusal.

*****

Free agency would simply allow an out-of-contract player to market himself to any of the clubs. If another club values his skills more than another and has room under the cap to sign him, that club should be able to do so and the player should be able to be compensated accordingly.

Posted by: combedge | February 17, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I'm chasing windmills.

Peace, out.

Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | February 17, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

If the owners are all losing millions a year the best thing that could happen for them is for the league to go away. That would save them millions. They could save face and blame it on the greedy players.

Posted by: csd1 | February 17, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

fallschurch1: I'm sorry if you didn't think my response was polite, but the fact remains that you don't seem to understand the structure of MLS finances. SUM money is a *completely separate enterprise*, one that the players don't have any association with at all. Whether they play well, play poorly, don't play at all, or go on strike, doesn't affect SUM in the tiniest. It is a *completely different business*, as much as if the money was coming from successful investments in Burger King. So why, exactly, do the players deserve a share of the SUM revenues?

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | February 17, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

combedge -- my understanding is that the League believes that Federal Court judges disagree with you. The belief is that unrestricted free agency, including the complete abolishment of the reserve clause, weakens the League's ability to argue in Federal Court that MLS is a single-entity and thus not subject to anti-trust restrictions. You might argue that that's good and proper, but that's not relevant to my point. My point is that the protections against risk that come with single-entity are a major part of what attracts investor/operators to the League and keeps them invested; it'd be safer management of their money to just give up on MLS than to take on still more risk.

Does that mean that there's something short of unrestricted free agency that wouldn't legally threaten single-entity? That's for some with an LL.D. in corporate law to guess, not me.

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | February 17, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

I really don't understand the point of this post Goff. Are you playing devil's advocate or do you actually have information as to what is going on? From what I understand the only issue that is holding both sides up is free agency. Everything else seems to be resolved. However free agency is a huge deal.

Posted by: no_recess | February 17, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

i hope they strike. Too many rumors of profitable-team owners wanting to take it big time - multiple DPs, greater salary cap, etc.
The players union know the league is being held back by your still-unprofitable-but-in-a-SSS Colum. Crew, or KC, or SJ. Players shouldnt be blamed for wrong ownerships or mls presence in bad markets. They know what the potential is. They see it in Sea, LA, Tor, NY, and they see the uptick in ratings on espn.

Posted by: alespar415 | February 17, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

re windmills . . .

why is the man Kee-ho-tay but the mission quix-ott-ic? Maybe loyal Insiders could turn their minds toward that and away from labor politics . . . .

Or is that just an impossible dream?

Posted by: OWNTF | February 17, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Quixote is a Spanish term, therefore pronounced "Kee-ho-tay". Quixotic is some English derivation, therefore pronounced "quix-otic." Besides, "Kee-ho-tic" sounds too much like chaotic.

I'm completely making this up and you shouldn't believe me, because I say "Quix-oat," like instant oatmeal.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | February 17, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

some serious checks and balances would have to be put in place before team's could be allowed to freely bid on players in an open market using their cap money (the league's money). You could see player values artificially spike very quickly, which would create major salary cap problems for teams that are managed poorly. it would seem to me that some sort of "restricted free agency" like the NFL's would be reasonable, or just limitations on inter-league free agents a team can sign in a season.

Posted by: VTUnited | February 17, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

SUM is not affected financially at all if MLS stops playing? Really?

Posted by: fallschurch1 | February 17, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I've thought about it more, and you're right. SUM does get *some* money from MLS activity, since they negotiate the national MLS TV deals, which until two years ago meant MLS paid to have the games broadcast, but now are money-makers. But the vast majority of the SUM monies come from re-sale of World Cup television rights, Nats games, InterLiga, and (the real money) promtional and marketing rights to Mexican National Team games in the US.

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | February 17, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Gee, I wonder how much of this echoes the CBA talks?

Posted by: boda-united | February 17, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Metzler - I think that a 'restricted' form of free-agency (where the player's current club has a right of first refusal at the end of the contract...after which, the player is free to sign with whatever club he wants) would still uphold the single entity structure. The contracts could still be signed with and owned by the league. And the investor/operators would not truly be acting independently as the fielding of more competitive sides makes the league stronger overall.

The problem with the current structure is that it doesn't allow a club to sign an out-of-contract player without compensating his current club - even if the player's current club has no interest in signing him. That just seems overly restrictive.

Posted by: combedge | February 17, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

The discussion about SUM illustrates that when talking about whether MLS (or individual teams within MLS) make or lose money, it's challenging to define what entities are included in the team or the League. If a team's owners also own a stadium, but that stadium is part of a separate corporation that the team pays stadium rent to, should that corporation be included? What if that corporation that manages the stadium also rents the stadium out to other, non-MLS activities? Should the revenues from those other activities be included in the assessment of whether or not the MLS team makes money? I've read in a couple of places that FC Dallas is profitable solely because of all the other (non-MLS) stuff that goes on in Pizza Hut Park.

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | February 17, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

combedge -- you may be right. I'm just not *sure* you're right. If I were sitting on the bench, with an anti-trust action against MLS before me, in some future where free agency exists, I'd ask "why should I consider you a single-entity? Individual teams compete against each other for players. Yes, in the end, the League owns the contracts; but how is that not a distinction without a difference?"

Re: your last paragraph, I agree wholeheartedly. That's the essence of the reserve clause (Wikipedia has a nice page on its history in other leagues, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reserve_clause , for anyone who cares), and what free agency corrects. Please don't think for a second that I'm defending the status quo. I think the way in which player rights are handled in MLS, from an ethical point of view, are awful; and multiple players have been burned by it in the past (e.g. Dante Washington or Eric Brunner). I'm not making a moral/ethical argument, but rather a probabilistic one. No matter how more *just* things might be with free agency, I just can't imagine the League going for it.

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | February 17, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

I wonder how long the unemployment office guarantees contracts?

What's the over-under on the number of MLS players who get employment at or over their current salary in another league if MLS folds? I'd say five players.

Posted by: hoodwich | February 18, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

I don't know if it's as little as five; but it's not a large number, and that's another thing that's not in the players' favor when it comes to assessing negotiating power. I just don't see how the players can get what they want here.

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | February 18, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

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