REUTERS: Major League Soccer (MLS) on Tuesday offered to extend the terms of the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) by two years instead of cutting player salaries to cope with anticipated losses in 2021 because of the COVID-19 crisis.
MLS avoided a lockout in June when the players ratified a CBA that included a 5per cent pay cut to player salaries but last month the league invoked a clause to renegotiate the agreement with the union, giving both sides 30 days to strike a deal.
MLS relies heavily on in-person attendance and after losing nearly US$1 billion last year, it expects significant losses again this year.
"According to public health officials, the restrictions on attendance at live sporting events will continue far into the 2021 MLS season," MLS President and Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott said in a statement.
"To address the ongoing impact of the pandemic in 2021, MLS is proposing to extend the term of the existing collective bargaining agreement for two years rather than seeking any salary reduction.
"This proposal will help ensure the long-term health of the league while paying MLS players 100per cent of their salaries."
MLS Players Association did not immediately return a request for comment on the proposal.
MLS saw its season come to a halt in March due to the pandemic only to return with its "MLS is Back" tournament in a bio-secure "bubble" in Orlando in July. In November the teams returned to their home stadiums for playoffs and the MLS Cup was won by the Columbus Crew in December.
If the sides can reach an agreement, the 2021 season is expected to begin in mid-March.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)