As Major League Soccer looms closer to a possible work stoppage, neither side has quite understood how damaging it could be to its future.
Major League Soccer should be celebrating their 20th anniversary as the season is slated to kick off this weekend, yet a potential work stoppage has cast a dark cloud on the league, which is still trying to gain a grip on the North American sports scene.
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A Wall Street Journal piece on Wednesday did a great job of breaking down just how devastating a delay to the MLS season would be not only to the players, who would stand to lose what little income most of them make, but also to the owners, some of whose teams are barely threading water financially.
Commissioner Don Garber has plans of making MLS into an elite league by 2022, yet a stoppage would do considerable damage to the league if it has desires to be on par with the English Premier League.
With a triple-header of nationally televised games slated for this weekend, MLS has a golden opportunity to gain fans during a period where there is a considerable void in sports television.
The piece also focuses on the foolhardy mindset of MLS owners when it comes to the salary cap and minimum salaries. Owners lost a reported $100 million last season and are concerned about a scenario where the league could become one of the haves and have-nots, as some teams will be able to bid on high-end free agents without few repercussions.
Failure to secure a deal before Friday’s season opener between Chicago and Los Angeles will only mean one thing: sports fans will take no time in ignoring MLS, especially with the frenzy of March Madness around the corner.
Good news for MLS fans: both sides are at the bargaining table and continue to work toward reaching an agreement and avoiding any kind of stoppage. The league is at a point where it has a chance to gain more fans while also building up a stronger television presence via its deal with ESPN and NBC Sports. Neither side wants to blink, yet the attempt to not take the high road could possibly sink both sides.
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