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Austin FC season at risk amid disagreements between league and player's union

(Laura Figi)

Austin FC's inaugural season and the entire upcoming Major League Soccer season could be put on lockdown if agreements between the MLS and the MLS Players' Association are not reached.


The MLS and players' association have extended their negotiations for one week after being unable to come to a consensus on the collective bargaining agreement. If the organizations are unable to reach an agreement by Feb. 4 at 11:59 p.m. ET, the MLS has threatened the entire league's first-ever lockout.

The lockout would not be specific to Austin FC. It would consist of barring all MLS players from team facilities after denying players their paychecks. It would be the first in league history.

MLS released a statement Friday morning that they would pay their players 100% of their salary if the association agreed to a two-year extension of the CBA through 2027.

The league stated that it is requesting certain changes in order to recover from losses throughout the pandemic and possible losses into the 2021 season.

"We have emphasized the importance of the two-year extension to allow the league and clubs to recover a portion of the losses incurred in 2021 as a result of the pandemic while protecting the long-term health of the League by providing stability which promotes ongoing investment," the statement said.

In addition, the statement said that agreements needed to be made by Thursday in order to give players and teams time to prepare for the upcoming season. Both associations will meet regularly during the extension, and if no conclusion is made, the league will lock out their own players.

If a lockout were to occur, the league has stated it would continue to pay for the health insurance of players and their families.

The statement came after the MLSPA made a bid for compromise Thursday night to extend the CBA by one year through 2026. The union has also offered a reduction in salary cap in the years 2022-25 as well as a 12.5% reduction in revenue sharing in the next media deal in 2024. MLS players have also requested that players 23 and older with at least four years of service be qualified for free agency. Previously, a player needed to be 24 and up with five years of service to qualify. All in all, the association has estimated its concession at $53 million.

Before the negotiations, the MLS had offered a deal to extend the CBA for two years and institute a salary budget freeze from 2021-22 without any salary or bonus cuts. The league estimated their concessions to be around $100 million.

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