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MLS owners, players agree to economic terms for return to play, CBA extension

Major League Soccer is on track to return in July for a 26-team tournament. We break down the latest news in the economics negotiations.

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A general view of Orlando City Stadium from the scoreboard during the soccer match between NYCFC and Orlando City on March 2, 2019, at Orlando City Stadium in Orlando FL. Photo by Joe Petro/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Major League Soccer has crossed the biggest non-health hurdle in its attempt to play a full league tournament in Orlando in July. The owners and players came to terms on a deal that adjusts salaries for this season, reduces players TV revenue sharing in 2023, and extends the CBA through the 2025 season, according to The Athletic’s Sam Stejskal and Paul Tenorio.

Major League Soccer created plans for a tournament based in Orlando featuring all 26 teams, but no fans in attendance. There have been extensive discussions about health and safety protocols, as well as the economics of this season and beyond. Playing this kind of tournament with no fans removes ticket revenue while impacting television revenue with a shortened season.

The owners made an offer recently and were threatening a lockout when players started pushing back. The owners pushed back the deadline 24 hours as negotiations continued, and that was enough time to find some middle ground. The owners had wanted larger salary cuts and force majeure language based on only five teams suffering a 25 percent or more attendance drop. The two sides agreed on force majeure language, but without that specific number. Additionally, with the players agreeing to an adjustment on the television revenue sharing in the future, the owners agreed to a previously negotiated salary cut rather than pushing for more.

The Athletic goes into more details on the deal, but the most important thing for fans is it got done. It is not clear how much remains to be negotiated on the health and safety front, but the economics were likely going to be the hardest part of this negotiation.

The tournament is set to begin in early July, but teams that can train in their own market at this point will likely be allowed to conduct full-team training in their home market before traveling to Orlando in early July. Teams that are in cities where that is not possible will travel to Orlando earlier to train before the games.