Landon Donovan’s Future and the Heart of Labor’s Discontent

Soccer: World Cup Qualifier-Mexico at USA

Landon Donovan has impressed David Moyes and the Everton FC brass enough to justify a purchase, though the Toffees’ gaffer is resigned to losing the American star when the player’s loan expires this month.

Once the Galaxy star returns stateside, the precarious labor situation could put Donovan’s Liverpool future on hold indefinitely, regardless of whether Everton is willing to meet Major League Soccer’s demands.

When Donovan comes back, he is unlikely to be sold back to Everton before the beginning of the next Premier League season. There is, after all, a reason MLS wanted their second most marketable player back to train before the start of the season. However, with their apparent intent to continue using Donovan as a marketing tool – at least for the start of the 2010 season – the timing of a future move becomes precarious in light of labor uncertainties.

In my opinion, the odds of MLS and the MLSPU making it until August or September without a collective bargaining agreement or work stoppage is pretty low. If the players were willing to let the terms of the old bargaining agreement dictate their employment for an entire season, we would probably have some sort of a deal in place. Also, player leverage because incredibly high if they can use the potential World Cup-boon as well as the months before the start of football to their advantage.

If a work stoppage were to happen over the summer, would Donovan be able to complete a move to Everton (a move that is starting to look move inevitable)? Better still, how would the mechanics of such a sale work?

While a second loan deal seems like something the two sides could come together to allow, the options surrounding a permanent sale are muddied by labor uncertainty.

Landon Donovan is not only under contract to Major League Soccer, but the league holds his registration – a very important detail when it comes to soccer players. While a strike would typically mean a worker could be employed elsewhere while no agreement was in place, that does not mean Donovan’s registration would be released by Major League Soccer.

Without this release from MLS, Everton would not be able to complete a Donovan acquisition, even if the attacker and club wanted to complete a deal. Just because the CBA governing Donovan’s contract loses relevance when a work stoppage is enacted, MLS is not obligated to release the player’s registration.

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