Article updated Feb. 4, 6:15 p.m. EST
TORONTO, Canada—February 4, 2021 by 11:59 p.m. EST.
That was the original deadline set by Major League Soccer (MLS) to its players association (MLSPA) for the two parties to come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) ahead of the 2021 season, which is technically scheduled to begin with training camps on Feb. 22
Now, with talks apparently in an advanced stage, the league has extended that deadline by 24 hours.
“Major League Soccer and the MLSPA continue to meet daily to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the League in 2021 and beyond,” said the league in a statement Thursday evening. “Although we have not finalized a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and remain apart on some key issues, discussions this week have been productive, and we have made progress. Since the negotiations have reached an advanced stage, the League has extended the negotiating period by 24 hours to provide every opportunity to finalize an agreement by 11:59 p.m. ET on Feb. 5.”
In a prior statement, the league had used a more affirmative tone, emphasizing that if the two sides were unable to finalize a new CBA by Thursday at midnight, then the MLS Labor Committee had voted unanimously to authorize the league to terminate the CBA and institute a lockout. That threat appears to be still in tact, but with a lighter tone.
Both sides have been apparently working relentlessly to reach an agreement as an MLS work stoppage would be devastating for a league still in its adolescent years.
It would hurt the players, who would be without a club and competitive football—and perhaps more importantly a consistent week-to-week pay cheque to provide to their families. It certainly wouldn’t be good for the fans and the supporters, who even the league’s most loyal have pledged their support the players. And even if the league and its owners do end up saving a few dollars short term, it’s ignorant to ignore the damage it could potentially bring about long term.
Although with that being said, the latest update does leave room for optimism.
Still, we are not over the finished line just yet. This could be a fascinating few hours ahead. Keep it locked in to Waking the Red as we’ll have all of your updates to this developing story. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook for the latest.