Where I think the CBA negotiations go from here…

Now that my strenous regimen of isolation, prayer, meditation, and voodoo has led the US hockey team beating Canada at the Olympics, I can return to my usual post here at Fighting Talker to pontificate on what is going on in soccer.

I’ll start with the two sides getting very huffy in the MLS CBA negotiations. This past weekend, we had both sides doing a bit of negotiating through the media and as Kenn said, it really did neither side any favors.

I’m currently assuming what we’re reading out of the two sides is reasonably true and it’s led me to pretty much agree w/the players and the sentiments of Beau Dure here. There is no good reason that guys like Van den Burgh or Hartman should be in limbo. If this is the big sticking point, I fail to see why the owners are insisting on going to the wall over this. In light of this, here’s where I think this is going to go.

Option 1: This is all a negotiating ploy by the owners, who will stonewall on this issue right up until the midnight on deadline day when they’ll say, “We’re agreeing to a standard compensation system for out-of-contract players, but that’s it. Take it or leave it.” This move would do a couple things.

1) It gets an offer on the table that, at least on its surface, gives the players one of its specific non-salary-related demands.
2) By waiting until the deadline, it means that players can’t interpret the compromise offer as a capitulation and attempt to wring more out of the owners.
3) It puts the public opinion firmly behind the owners who can say on strike day 1 that, “We gave the players what they asked for on out-of-contract players plus $x-million dollars of increased salary cap but that wasn’t enough for the players.”

Option 2: There are a few hardline owners that simply are refusing to budge on any element of the league structure, including on issues like out-of-contract players. These owners are likely those that wouldn’t have much to lose via a stoppage such as Anschutz (Could book HDC w/tons of concerts and other sporting events), Hunt Sports Group (Dallas makes its money through kiddie tournaments), Kraft (Can just book concerts and other stuff at Foxboro if Revs aren’t playing), and maybe Kroenke (Tons of money, and he too could just book DSG with concerts and kiddie tourneys to make up the difference). For this to be the option, it means that these hardline owners have Garber’s ear and are the Reinsdorf to to Garber’s Bud Selig.

For now, I still think the owners are operating under some varient of option 1. I should add, if they’re operating under some version of option 1, that means that the stoppage and the resulting damage will most likely be the players’ fault. That depends on what the owners actually offer. If Option 2 is in play, than the players union and its propagandists have more of a point and the whole situation looks far bleaker.

I still think this gets ironed out but not until the final minutes. That’s how this gets done in the big leagues and I suspect that’s how MLS will get this done as well.

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8 thoughts on “Where I think the CBA negotiations go from here…

  1. This is what I can’t get. It’s also part of why I think the players have failed miserably in the PR war.

    There are clear, obvious examples of how someone who has been a good pro and is not wanted by his last team is being held back. Make them examples instead of some shadowy statements from FIFPro through Kasey Keller, who I heard somewhere once lived in a castle.

    Foose shouldn’t be sitting around parsing Mark Abbott’s math. He should be releasing the exact proposal and getting the fans behind it. They looked just as untrustworthy as the owners when they simply rely on bland statements designed to whip up fans who would get angry at the owners for anything.

  2. http://www.soccerbyives.net/soccer_b…riticisms.html

    The league’s position is not that they want KC to be able to jack up Kevin Hartman for trade value. It’s that they want a mechanism to deal with this that also doesn’t involve bidding wars for players that their current clubs do want to keep.

    And I think that since the players union won’t specifically bring up the Hartmans, it tells us that indeed, that’s not really what it’s about for them. They’re aiming at a much bigger prize.

  3. Remember, we really don’t have full view of the battlefield here. The sides’ positions are their positions now, not necessarily forever. That’s why I hesitate to make any big conclusions here.

  4. True, either side may come off of their stance (one of them, eventually, must).

    I’m just saying that right now, Kevin Hartman’s the feel-bad story, he’s not what this disagreement is about.

  5. I haven’t seen it, but have any other teams actually offered aything for the likes of Hartman or VDB with or without a significant pay cut?

  6. Option 3: According to the league, they have already proposed a system that deals with the Kevin Hartmans of the world without becoming full-blown free agency.

    In other words, Option 3 is that the league is willing to make concessions regarding the exceptional cases most people see as unfair. But what the union is really interested in is using those exceptional cases as leverage to obtain full free agency for everyone.

  7. That’s a good point that again reiterates that we don’t actually know what either side has offered. Not knowing that makes it impossible to judge anything other than each side’s PR strategy. If the owners have offered something like you suggest or that Beau suggested and players said no, than it changes the situation greatly and to me, tips the PR advantage back into the hands of the owners.

  8. Could someone explain to my simple little mind how allowing players to go play for the highest bidder, at the end of their contract, as long as salary caps are tightly enforced, hurts the league at all? Doesn’t the salary cap sufficiently protect the financial integrity of the league?

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