MLS Labor Dispute – An Owner Strikes Back

For the last couple of weeks, we’ve read with interest as players have sounded off about the ongoing labor dispute between owners and players.

Today, the owners strike back.

AEG chief executive Tim Leiweke spoke at length with the Los Angeles Times in a story published today, and to say he took a few shots at the rank and file would be an understatement.

“Here’s our issue, and I’m speaking on behalf of AEG,” he said. “We have spent to the tune of $300 million on soccer. We have spent money on facilities. We at one point owned six of the 10 teams to keep the league alive.

“I don’t even know how to react when I hear the players now saying that we have treated them poorly and they’re going to strike. The fact is, the Galaxy isn’t going to make money this year. There are only a couple of (MLS) teams that will make money this year. … So when I hear them talk about striking and shutting the league down, I’ve got to tell you, they’re going to lose us when they talk like that.

“We do this out of passion. If this were a business, we would have quit this 10 years ago.”

I’m sure George Cohen, the federal mediator for the ongoing talks between the league and its players was thrilled when he read that in the Times this morning.

I can’t say I’m surprised that an owner has finally fired back after reading article after article featuring quotes from players criticizing the league.

“We have been fighting this battle for 10 years,” Leiweke told the Times. “Some of these (players) forget what we have put into it and they’re acting like the hard work and the money and the time and the energy and the passion that we’ve put into this, they all seem to forget about that.”

I think its even more telling that this article is the most significant news coming out of the negotiations. It’s specualtion on my part, but I have to believe that, if a deal was close, Leiweke wouldn’t be shooting his mouth off like this.

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