We're about 6 weeks from the expiration of MLS' current collective bargaining agreement, and it's become the main topic of discussion by most MLS writers/bloggers. There have been a few quotes lately coming from Seattle Sounders FC players about the negotiations and most have not looked positive when it comes to a deal being reached. Previously we've heard that MLS players have been told to plan for a strike/lock out, and the talk from the Sounders players does nothing to really discourage that. Kasey Keller even puts a date on when the potential lock out could occur, February 1st.
The players union's main points in these negotiations has been more about players' rights than getting the salary cap raised. This is a smart move probably by the players union as in the current economic climate, it'd be hard to pressure the league to make a big raise in the cap. Instead the main things the players are wanting, is club autonomy (clubs negotiating contracts, not just the league), guaranteed contracts, free agency within MLS when contracts expire, and have the league open up it's books to determine a fair raise in the salary cap every year.
Right now, players do not have guaranteed contracts, teams can release players from their contracts and those contracts are gone. The players want to have the security of the guaranteed contracts. Also, when a players' contract expires, their rights are still owned by the MLS team that they played for, as long as the MLS team offered him a new contract. Meaning a team would have to trade the rights to a player for them to sign with another MLS team.
Players also say that MLS does not abide by FIFA rules in regards to player transfers, because they make players sign a waiver giving away some of those FIFA rules. FIFA, though, has stayed out of the fight, even when FIFPro has asked FIFA to get involved.
I can't really argue with the players' wants, they all make sense and seem to be fairly easy to give. Still, the discussion goes on, as the two sides appear to still be a ways apart on these issues. Hopefully both sides can come to a compromise on this and we'll have a 2010 season, because I'm part of the group that thinks that a strike would cripple and potentially kill the league.