One reason NFL players believe owners hold unfair leverage against them in labour negotiations is the $4.5 billion in lockout insurance the league earns from its television contracts whether or not any games are played next season.Tuesday, a court-appointed investigator will review the players’ complaint against that guaranteed money, Fanhouse’s Dan Graziano reports.
The players filed that complaint in June, alleging that the guaranteed revenue gives owners the upper hand, as they’ll collect cash while waiting for players to give in to their demands. The players have no such luxury. They want the $4.5 billion to be held in escrow until the two sides come to an agreement.
According to Graziano, the players will seek to prove that the league gave TV broadcasters new benefits – including the RedZone channel and mobile and broadband rights – free of charge during 2009 and 2010 with the understanding that the broadcasters would pony up in 2011. The players cry foul because owners are obliged to share revenues under the CBA.
The NFL believes the “lockout insurance” claims are inaccurate. The league says it has to pay back any money earned from television networks during a work stoppage with interest. The NFL also dismissed allegations that it withheld revenue opportunities in providing new benefits to its broadcasters.
If the court-appointed reviewer sides with the players, he could lend urgency to the negotiation process. If not, we could be in for a very long offseason.
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