“We don’t know what it’s going to look like going forward,” he said of the economic picture over the next five years, "but I think it speaks to the desire of our ownership to continue to be courageous and to continue to believe in a league. And frankly, I think it represents on our part this belief that this pandemic is going to end at some point, and we're going to get this country back and the economy back."
MLS had never previously attempted to negotiate a force majeure clause. The only major U.S. league with a force majeure clause in its CBA is the NBA. The clause gives the NBA protection in the event of an event like war or an epidemic. It allows the NBA to reduce payments on a pro-rata basis for every game that can't be played as well as the right to terminate the agreement after notice of 60 days, with the proviso the parties engage in good-faith negotiations to reach a revised agreement.
A person with the knowledge of the CBA negotiations said MLS and the MLSPA only agreed to the second clause: the right to terminate the agreement after proper notice -- the length was not disclosed -- with the proviso the parties engage in good-faith negotiations to reach a revised agreement. The clause will take effect in 2021.
“I can assure you, our entire industry and really all business globally," Garber said, "force majeure clauses are
going to be a part of agreements going forward."
The March shutdown after just two weeks of play came as the MLS was celebrating its 25th year. Garber said MLS's relative youth was a critical factor in the decision by the league to develop a plan for the return to play in 2020 even if there is no guarantee how many games will be played or if fans will be allowed to attend.
"Unlike the other leagues, their fan bases are deeply matured and been around for generations," he said. "Our absence created a void in the lives of fans and their love and care for our players. Clearly, our absence from the sports scene was really crucial for us to get back."
Garber said the negotiations were challenging, considering everything that has gone on since the pandemic shut the league down on March 12 and more recently since the killing of George Floyd. He described the talks as "incredibly difficult" amid the backdrop of "the fear from an uncertainty of a pandemic and the emotional and rightful feelings of rage and concern and frustration with what has been going on with the protests over the last eight days."
"Although the process
and tactics used by MLS left a mark," Nashville SC defender Eric Miller tweeted, "I’m incredibly
proud of our player pool." In a media call, Daniel Lovitz, Miller's Nashville SC teammate, said, “There was no winner. I want to be clear about that. This is a really terrible situation for all
Garber added that labor negotiations are always difficult, especially on resolving the final points of contention.
"They are never easy and they shouldn't be," he said. "The labor movement should not be about making things easy. They should be difficult for both sides to ensure that they're doing everything possible to not leave anything on the field and address everybody's concerns. I believe the players have done that, and I believe their leadership has done that. And I believe our owners and the leadership of the league representing the owners in negotiations have done that as well."