NFL and NFLPA Should Have Plans In Place For Lost Revenue, Just In Case

We don't know whether the NFL will have to endure what the MLS, MLB, and NBA have had to go through. Major League Soccer and Major League Baseball have had ugly public battles with their respective players unions and while the MLS appears to have settled things to avoid a lockout with the MLSPA, MLB doesn't appear close on a solution in terms of pay.

The NBA has not had to go through as much turmoil with their players given that the regular season was nearly over when they decided to postpone play back in March. The only thing the NBA has had to figure out is how they want to conclude their season as they try to recoup as much lost revenue as they can.

For the NFL, they are in a different boat entirely given the fact that they have not started their season. Free agency and the draft have both gone off without a hitch and the NFLPA was strongly is agreement with the league's decisions for teams to hold training camps at their respective facilities as well as the elimination of joint practices.

That's great but what happens when the season comes along and games are played at stadiums that are only half-full or completely empty altogether? What happens if the NFL has to cancel games?


The worst-case scenario is that every game is played in a completely empty stadium, leading to what sources have estimated as a $4 or $5 billion drop -- about a third of revenue. Under that scenario, teams could bring in $40 to $80 million less than expected. The losses are likely to be less than that, because it is expected that some fans will be able to attend games in some stadiums, although stadiums won't be packed. Still, if there are huge revenue losses, the 2021 cap will be impacted.

And then there is the other, major issue that looms -- what if the coronavirus cuts short the season after it started? While there is nothing firm and final, one could expect players to argue there is a strong legal argument to be made that once a single regular season game is played, teams would owe players their entire base salaries for the season, no matter how many games are ultimately played.

In that scenario, if the season were cut short, teams would lose an overwhelming amount of revenue, but still be on the hook for full salaries for their rosters. That is not considered by teams as tenable.

The NFL and NFLPA were very close to not coming together on a new CBA earlier this year and we've already seen things get ugly in other sports leagues. The league has the benefit of not having played any games during COVID-19, unlike the other leagues.

So to make sure things either don't get as bad as the MLS or MLB, the NFL should have these talks now (however uncomfortable they may be) and hopefully come to a resolution just in case the league does endure a major loss of revenue that impacts salaries and players jobs either this year or next.

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