MLS Players ‘Prepared to Go on Strike’ without New CBA


With the 2015 MLS season less than two months away and the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the players and the league expiring at the end of January, many fans are getting antsy and wondering about what would happen in the event an agreement couldn’t be reached. Simply, there would be a work stoppage and the season would start late. Essentially, either the league shuts down the season or the players strike until an agreement. It appears the players are prepared to go on strike if a new CBA is not reached with the league by the start of the season.

The NHL and the NFL are the most recent leagues that shutdown operations due to no new CBA. For the NHL, it cancelled part of the season and the 2013 All-Star Game. On the other hand, the NFL lockout only affected part of the preseason preparation. Both leagues have recovered from a lockout, but the same might not be true if MLS were to have a stoppage in play.

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MLS is entering its 20th season and also a new television contract with ESPN, FOX, and UniMas. If games were cancelled, it would be hard to reschedule them for national television as soccer is not the first priority on any of those networks. Secondly, if they could be rescheduled they may have to be played midweek and would not be in their current consistent primetime slots. The new television deal will allow for greater visibility for the league and players.

Likewise, the league is trying to continue to grow within the United States. 2014 was a great year that saw growth in attendance and television ratings due partly to World Cup fever and Landon Donovan’s swan song in the MLS Cup Final. Yet, the potential is there for 2015, but a work stoppage and lockout would stymie that potential and growth and ultimately hurt the league. Secondly, MLS is not as rooted as NHL and NFL when it comes to television ratings. The lockouts made fans hungrier for their beloved sport to return. For the fair weather soccer fans, they will just find something else to fill their time and interests and won’t return to the stadiums or the televisions to watch MLS games. Yes, the supporters will, but they only make up a portion of the viewing audience and people in attendance.

All in all, the players seem likely to strike if a new agreement isn’t reached. January and February will be busy with preseason and CBA talks. MLS needs to stop crying poor especially with Toronto FC’s latest signings that are dropping a lot of cash. At the same time, both sides need to work together to not have a work stoppage, because it won’t be good for either side, the league nor the players. Both sides will need to make compromises to keep the league running ahead of opening weekend in March.

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