The MLS Players Association today released a statement confirming that they had ratified amendments to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, paving the way for the start of the 2021 regular season and avoiding the threatened lockout after owners had triggered a force majeure clause they said was related to losses during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The league’s owners had repeatedly taken an aggressive stance, creating a deadline that the MLSPA maintained was not based on anything contractual while mentioning the prospect of locking players out multiple times. This round of negotiations represents the third such dispute in a year, with players agreeing to the previous CBA last February, and then dealing with labor issues again last summer before the MLS is Back Tournament.
According to multiple reports, the lengthy negotiations may result in the previously announced start dates for the preseason and regular season to be slightly delayed:
The dispute arguably took MLS closer to an actual work stoppage than the league had ever gone, despite statements from the MLSPA repeatedly stating that their intent was to start the season as soon as possible. Owners drew a hard line, however, and while details are not yet clear, it appears that they clawed back some past concessions and set themselves up to reap more of the gains the sport may see due to the 2026 men’s World Cup.