Coming into 2020, speculation grew over Major League Soccer shutting down over prolonged negotiations with the MLS Players Association regarding the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. A few months later and we’re in the seventh week of a shutdown with the two groups about to start a very different negotiation.
On Thursday, March 12 the FC Dallas team was due to practice at Toyota Soccer Center before boarding a flight to New York City ahead of the team’s third game of the new season. Instead, they stayed in place as MLS followed the NBA’s lead and announced a shut down for the next 30 days.
From that point, the financial aspect of what has almost become the new normal took hold in Frisco and other markets.
Each practice sees a member of the Toyota Stadium security staff earning three to four hours of their hourly wage. A number of MLS teams – Atlanta United, Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew, DC United, LAFC, New York Red Bulls, and Orlando City – have announced some form of relief for those part-time workers. I had approached FC Dallas regarding the subject but received no comment.
It’s worth pointing out that the majority of gameday staff at FC Dallas are not employees, but rather vendors for Jerry Jones’ Legends, a security firm who provides the ‘yellow shirts’, or the individual businesses that operate at FC Dallas games.
Real Salt Lake and DC United has since furloughed staff without gameday revenue. The Dallas Morning News’ Evan Grant reported that FC Dallas staff were told on Thursday that their pay would be cut by 20% for the months of May and June. In addition, Dan Hunt would not receive his salary as FC Dallas President.
Some European clubs have been able to circumvent salary cuts and furloughing staff through players taking voluntary pay cuts. Where MLS operates based on the CBA, individuals or single teams cannot make the same gesture without the support of the 700-strong players’ association.
The players’ union is currently waiting on an offer from the league after opening talks last week. Jeff Carlisle reported that MLS is looking to save $150m by slashing salaries by 50% in the event that games are canceled rather than postponed. Players earning under $100,000 would not be affected under the current plan.
FC Dallas’ union representatives are Jimmy Maurer and Matt Hedges. Maurer spoke to the Dallas Soccer Show, and briefly touched on that without delving into the details of the current situation.
On a conference call last week with Reto Ziegler, I asked the FCD captain if he was party in any discussions as team captain. Ziegler referred to Maurer as the team’s primary representative that was voted by the squad at the start of the year. As a senior player who speaks both English and Spanish, Maurer is a good fit to keep the team informed about the latest developments.
“Jimmy Maurer is our main guy in this situation,” said Ziegler. “We have Whatsapp group where he, not daily but weekly, gives us some information about it.”
We’re in an increasingly fluid situation at home and in the sport of soccer. All we know is that things will continue to change, and that our wait to see a ball kicked will last a good while yet as MLS is working with a June 9 resumption at present.
FC Dallas and the league, as well as Buzz with the 3rd Degree podcast, are doing a great job of allowing us to look back on the history of the franchise as we wait for the present to resume.