Major League Soccer and the Major League Soccer Players Union have averted the threat of an imminent strike by agreeing to extend their deadline for completing negotiations for a new pay agreement.
The two sides have been deadlocked over the content of a new collective bargaining agreement to replace the original five-year deal which is due to expire on Sunday. That raised the prospect of a strike on Monday with clubs preventing the players from attending pre-season training, which started this week ahead of the new campaign at the end of March.
The main point of disagreement concerns players’ freedom of movement, with MLS operating its league as a single entity and holding the contracts of players rather than the individual teams.
The MLSPU also wants the league to fall in line with the majority of other leagues by guaranteeing contracts.
“While we still have areas of disagreement, the talks have been constructive and both parties believe it makes sense to continue to work hard to reach agreement,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said.
“This extension provides both MLS and the players the opportunity to continue our discussions while clubs are in training camps preparing for the 2010 MLS season.”
Players Union executive director Bob Foose confirmed the deadline extension, adding: “Both the Players Union and MLS have concluded that a new agreement will not be reached by February 1, but we have agreed to continue to talk and we will be meeting over the next two weeks to determine if a new agreement can be reached.
“In the meantime, MLS Players are reporting to training camp, and preparations for the 2010 season will continue.”