Minnesota United players didn’t participate in voluntary workouts Monday at the team’s Blaine training facility, while a reported Tuesday deadline looms for MLS and its players to reach an agreement that would resume a season suspended since March.
The MLS Players Association announced Sunday night that it approved a counteroffer of economic concessions intended to get the league playing again during the coronavirus pandemic. But issues that kept players from voluntary workouts leaguewide on Monday remain in negotiations. Those issues include salary and bonus reductions, and extending the collective bargaining agreement — agreed to in February — by one year, to 2025.
Responding to a report that MLS players will “refuse” to participate in voluntary training Monday, Loons veteran midfielder and players union leader Ethan Finlay tweeted about the decision that he, his teammates and his peers made.
“Players made a CHOICE to focus their time and energy on an important decision which includes the threat of a lockout instead of volunteering to attend on-field training for a tournament we already agreed to attend,” Finlay wrote. “Refuse is not the word I would use.”
The Washington Post reported Monday that disagreement remains over revenue sharing on a new television deal set to begin in 2023, and on a clause that protects owners in the event of another major national crisis, such as a pandemic.
ESPN reported that the players’ concessions will well exceed $100 million if the labor agreement is extended by a year.
It also reported owners will lock out the players if a deal isn’t reached by noon Tuesday.
The players union’s Sunday announcement called it a “difficult vote in incredibly challenging times” and said its approved package had been formally submitted to MLS for approval by the owners, who didn’t do so.
If an agreement is reached, all 26 teams will participate in a World Cup-style tournament without spectators while quarantined at a Disney property for four to six weeks starting in late June in Orlando.
Most Loons players have been working out individually and voluntarily in Blaine for nearly three weeks. A plan for them to advance to small-group workouts — limited to six per group — has been approved and could begin as soon as Tuesday.