- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On March 7, 2014
- 0 Comments
- 2014 MLS Season
Major League Soccer will begin it’s 19th season with replacement referees after the Professional Referee Organization and the Professional Soccer Referees Association failed to reach terms on their first collective bargaining agreement in time for the new season.
Both sides have been working towards an agreement for several months now but appear to be far apart on the money issue.
“We have made a substantial proposal to the Professional Soccer Referees Association and believe it is very fair and reasonable,” PRO general manager Peter Walton said in a statement. “Our proposal represents a significant increase above current compensation for referees and places them above the average for officials around the world. We are disappointed it has been rejected.”
The replacement officials attended a preseason training last week as part of PRO’s contingency plan for a work stoppage. Seven of the eight officials working this weekend have officiated MLS matches or FIFA international matches in the past.
MLS commissioner Don Garber guaranteed First Kick would proceed as scheduled during a conference call earlier this week. His certainty stemmed from PRO’s efforts to assemble a group of replacement referees in Dallas last week offer a potential alternative in case negotiations stalled.
PRO was created in 2012 with the goal of developing and improving referees in North America. Walton said that his organization had hoped to avoid a lockout and its leaders suggested a path that would avert a work stoppage.
“We had suggested a no strike/no lockout agreement for a reasonable period in an effort to keep the negotiations going but that was rejected by the PSRA,” Walton said. “Since they will not give us a guarantee they will not go on strike immediately prior to our matches, we are left in a position where we must use replacement officials to ensure that the MLS games are played as scheduled this weekend.”