MLS extends talks with players union into Friday night

New York (AFP) – Major League Soccer said Thursday progress has been made in union talks over a new collective bargaining agreement and delayed to Friday a deadline on a threatened lockout.

The MLS Players Association and the league are negotiating over terms for a 2021 season, MLS seeking revisions ahead of expected losses due to Covid-19 potentially causing little to no attendance at matches this year.

“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,” MLS said in a statement.

“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.”

The statement came less than six hours before a deadline set by MLS to make a deal or impose a lockout of players.

The deadline was moved back to one minute before midnight in New York on Friday (0459 GMT Saturday).

Last Friday, MLS described the sides as “far apart” in negotiations.

The MLSPA warned last week a shutdown would be a disaster for the league.

“A work stoppage at this time and in this environment would be catastrophic for the standing of MLS, both domestically and internationally,” the MLSPA said. “It is our sincere hope that it can be avoided.

“Players are ready to play.”

Recovering expected losses caused by continuing to play through a pandemic is the crucial issue, with agreement on the length of time for a contract extension also a contentious issue.

MLS is set to stage its 26th season this year with 27 clubs in US and Canadian markets, including expansion team Austin FC and other new sides planned in Charlotte, St. Louis and Sacramento.

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