Yes I am now embracing the attention grabbing headlines and while I may not think a player strike is the end of the world, it will surely impact a whole lot of people. The last couple days have again seen some interesting points brought up, but this time we are getting some information from the owners side of the issues.
However first up is Seattle's Freddie Ljungberg who offers up the following on ESPN
Imagine you work at Burger King and you get sacked. Now, you want to get another job at McDonald's, but you're not allowed to unless McDonald's compensates Burger King. It seems absurd, but that's the way certain things work in MLS at the moment. If your team terminates your contract, it still can demand a trade from another club before you can go and play for that other club.
Of course this argument really lacks validity in so many ways, for Freddie to make the comparison sounds a lot like the Walmart case that they tried to make a few weeks ago. If you get sacked by Seattle, you are free to go to Portland, Portsmouth, Porto, or any number of other places to apply your trade.
What MLS has in place is much more similar to a "non-compete" clause, something a lot of people in Seattle know about. I signed one when I worked for Microsoft, it said if I left I could not work for one of their direct competitors for 24 months. These types of things are common place in high tech fields, or anywhere that high end skills are involved in a competitive business environment. The place where these two differ is that MLS doesn't have an end date on their "non-compete" clause, I would suggest they adapt a 24 month model. Allow a team 24 months to control a players rights within MLS after their contract is terminated or expired. After 24 months they become a "free agent" in terms of dealing with the MLS.
So while the message from the MLSPU has been fairly steady about how bad the players have it (and a lot of them do have it bad when it comes to income), we have just started to hear from a side that had been silent the last few months, MLS owners.
Some interesting comments after the jump:
So one of the big players in MLS has been AEG and today their CEO Tim Leiweke spoke with the LA Times
Leiweke is the chief executive of AEG, which owns the Galaxy and has long been a major supporter of soccer in the U.S. In his view, the players and their representatives in the MLS Players Union are being "disrespectful" of what MLS owners have put into the sport.
"Here's our issue, and I'm speaking on behalf of AEG," Leiweke said in an interview with The Times on Monday. "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.
he goes on to say:
A strike is not inevitable, Leiweke said, and MLS Commissioner Don Garber continues to try to bring about a resolution. "It's up to them," Leiweke said of the players.
"We certainly are not going to lock them out because I don't think the sport can handle that. I think they're making a huge mistake going around talking about a strike.
"There's a price to be paid there. A company like ours is going to look at this and say: ‘So this is what we fought 10 years to build?'
"This is ridiculous. We should stay at the table, fight through this, resolve this, and get on with it."
It wasn't just in LA that the owners started talking, in Seattle the majority owner of the Sounders Joe Roth had a lot to say to the News Tribune
*His bottom line is that the players should continue to negotiate at a table while league play goes on. He said that a strike would be at the least a shame ... and at the most it could sink the league.
"From an entertainment standpoint, we haven't made enough of an imprint on the national psyche," he said. "... I don't think there will be a national outcry like with the NFL if somehow we wouldn't be out there for a year -- which would be terrible. Everyone would lost their jobs, we would all lose our franchises, and that would be that. I just don't think that we can afford, in terms of the public's eye, that we can take a year off."
There are some other interesting quotes from Roth in the article and I suggest using the link to read the whole article.
So I have been thinking about this for a while, if MLS is so very, very bad as some players would have you believe, why is it players who go to Europe come back to play here? Look at almost any MLS roster and you see players who have gone to Europe but end up coming back to MLS? You see players from South America coming to play in MLS, heck even today you have ESPN reporting that Ze Roberto is considering a move to MLS
How can it be that players come back to MLS, overseas players come here to player and yet it is such a horrible league? Don't get me wrong, don't take that out of context, I think MLS has some real issues they need to address and I have posted on them so often that some people think I hate the league. I think perhaps the best comment in the articles from the owners is this from Joe Roth:
There are issues to revolve and the CBA can be improved, but a radical restructuring is a bad idea.
I agree, I don't think this round of CBA talks is the time to restructure the league but I can only hope that the players are pushing for something they know is unlikely to happen this time but to get the league moving in a more team centric structure than the current MLS HQ centric structure we have today.
OFF MY SOAPBOX