The biggest roadblock to an NFL labour agreement right now is the union’s insistence that the NFL release all its financial statements for auditing.The league has fought this idea for two years, saying the union has more than enough information to understand their current bargaining position. So far they’ve only agreed to release profit figures (with no accounting for expenses) for the whole league — without giving a team-by-team breakdown of gains and losses.
However, the league’s owners aren’t just afraid of giving away too much to the union. As PFT’s Mike Florio and Yahoo’s Michael Silver point out, they’re more afraid of giving up too much information to each other.
Each team reports its financial data to the NFL, but the NFL doesn’t distribute that among all the owners. That way Jerry Jones doesn’t know how much Daniel Snyder makes and neither of them know how much Robert Kraft or Jim Irsay spends.
That’s the way the owners like it. Not only does the arrangement allow a profitable owner like Jones to avoid revealing sensitive strategic info to rival teams, it also allows the league to disguise which teams are losing money and are being propped up by revenue sharing.
If the NFL is forced to give that data up, it would undo not just their negotiation position with the union, it could undo the united front that keeps the peace throughout the league. Unfortunately, if this goes to the courts, the league could be forced to share ALL their financial data, which could be embarrassing as well as destabilizing.
That’s why the league is walking a very thin tightrope right now — and the union knows they have the (slight) advantage.
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