The Major League Soccer Players Association has proposed extending the current collective agreement with the league until the 2026 season.

The proposal came Thursday when the league and union stood before midnight after MLS invoked a force majeure clause to resume negotiations on the CBA, citing continued uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.

With its proposal, the union said it hoped to avoid a lockout. The regular MLS season opens on April 3rd. The pre-season training camps are allowed to start on February 22nd.

“It is our sincere hope that this can be avoided,” the MLSPA said in a statement. “The players are ready to play.”

The league and players’ union had two difficult negotiations last year – one in February before the start of the season and a second in June when the players took a pay cut to resume the 2020 season.

MLS said it suffered an estimated $ 1 billion in losses over the past year, partly due to lost revenue as a result of the virus.

Earlier this month, MLS suggested paying players full salaries this season in order to extend the current CBA for two years.

The MLSPA proposal would extend it to 2026. The union said the June negotiations had already extended the CBA for a year to 2025 and the players had already made concessions totaling more than $ 150 million. By extending the CBA for an additional year, those concessions would reach $ 200 million.

“In the midst of a cloud of uncertainty in the 2021 season, the players were again pushed back to the negotiating table. Following discussion and approval by the MLSPA Negotiating Committee, a proposal was presented to MLS today that includes a second extension of the current CBA term around the 2026 season. Coupled with our agreement last June, this proposal will result in over US $ 200 million in economic concessions and the extension of the CBA for two years – one year for each of the years significantly affected by the pandemic. It will also lessen the impact of revenue sharing, which was such a highly competitive profit in the original CBA, ”the union said in a statement Thursday.

The proposal would make other changes, including lowering the age for free agency eligibility and some restrictions on free agency revenues.

Major League Soccer did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Commissioner Don Garber responded to the league’s proposal in an open letter to fans on January 21.

“The MLS Owners Group has come up with a fair proposal for a very difficult situation where players will receive 100% of their salary this year in exchange for a two year extension of the MLS collective agreement. I’m proud of the solution our owner group has presented, ”Garber wrote. “MLS ownership bears the risk and financial losses of the pandemic this year while protecting the long-term stability of our league by providing an opportunity to recoup some of those financial losses in the future.”

ESPN reported that the league sent a memo to its 27 teams on Wednesday to prepare for a possible work stoppage if an agreement could not be reached.

Players from across the league repeated the union’s message on Twitter on Thursday, saying they were “ready to play”. Nashville’s Dax McCarty wrote: “My personal, very well thought out and articulated statement to @MLS: We are ready to play.”

The MLSPA noted that the players were already at health risks due to the coronavirus pandemic, as were their families and team members.

However, the economic impact on the clubs was also pointed out, and any stoppage of work was “disastrous for the reputation of MLS at home and abroad.

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