CBA Stuff

Chris Rolfe, Kevin Alston

At the beginning of September, Chris Rolfe announced that he would be leaving the Fire in January to join Danish club Aalborg BK. Rolfe, who tried to negotiate an extension with the Fire for two years before signing with Aalborg, said his decision to leave MLS was motivated by a few things - one of which was money.

In other American sports Rolfe might have taken some heat for that admission. He probably would have been labeled as greedy by some in the media and Fire fans wouldn't have given him too kind of a sendoff. But that isn't the nature of MLS. The way the league is set up requires players like Rolfe - who have a good deal of talent but not quite enough to cut it in Europe's bigger leagues - to cross the Atlantic to maximize their earning ability. For most of these players, staying in the MLS is too much of a risk. Not only is there not enough money to be made, but foreign clubs offer other things American teams don't - namely basic FIFA rights. Those rights - [which include free agency, guaranteed contracts and a right to negotiate with other clubs ](http://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/article/63183)- are currently absent from the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The CBA expires on January 31st and if the Players' Union doesn't see changes in those areas (along with an increase in the salary cap) the league could be headed towards a work stoppage.

Any kind of work stoppage would be a big time disaster for the league. I get that the players want their rights. Everybody wants to get paid. But I'm guessing they'll have to back down on free agency if they want to get on the field next season. And they need to get on the field next season. The league is growing and it has indeed made huge strides since its inception in 1996. But it's not yet big enough that it can afford a work stoppage. There aren't enough fans. There isn't enough interest. And, most importantly, there isn't enough money.

*I'll have much more on this as we head into January. I'm expecting to talk with the Fire's Union representative soon and hopefully he'll be able to clarify a few things for us. For now, we can go off what Seattle keeper Kasey Keller is saying on his blog. [Not exactly encouraging stuff Kasey](http://kaseyslastline.com/the-off-season-continues/)...*

Comments

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  • I don't know who suffers more from a walkout and who is more likely to play hardball. Is there a strike fund so the players can pay their bills? Do the owners actually come out a little ahead if they don't have salary obligations? With the World Cup coming, MLS is going to be a sideshow until July. I don't know how that figures into each side's calculations.

  • If they holdout into the start of the season there will be no more MLS. I would like to see how much the clubs made this season, if anything at all. I cant imagine NE is making alot of money when they get 8000 fans at games. Sure we want them to get paid more but where is the money coming from? MLB, NBA, NFL players get paid so much because the teams have the money to do that. They get tv revenue, sponsorships, sell out 60,000+ stadiums every week and have merchandise sales through the roof. The Fire had 2, maybe 3, sellouts for the whole season and do the Fire even have t-shirts that I could buy? So when the players threaten with a strike, I wouldn't be surprised if the owners laugh at them and say "ok." What is Austin Washington going to do then? Dan Woolard? Pause?

  • hey sam,,whats rolfe doing right now...has he reported...?thanks

  • ive been surfing around and cant find anything

  • In reply to bert:

    I'm not sure exactly what Rolfe's status is. I'll be sure to find out for you though.

  • Sam - good topic and reporting. I imagine the Front office would not have a comment but if there is a shut out / lock out, how would the Fire (or any other team ) issue refunds or pledges for the future for Season ticket holders?
    Also, I have no idea what Garber would say specifically, but you have to figure that with the time it took for baseball and hockey to recover, that MLS can't afford the recovery time.
    With the attention that the world cup will get, MLS wants games on the field. I have to figure some bars besides
    the Globe are going to have ESPN on, and there should be some buzz this summer. I don't expect MLS attendance to sky rocket, but no having no games would mean no new casual fans would get drawn in.

  • In reply to ChrisConnolly:

    Obviously I don't know how the Fire front office would handle refunding ticket purchases should there be a strike, but I would imagine they would give you back your money (in full) for any games that were cancelled. I'll try and get confirmation on that as soon as possible.

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