NFL-NFLPA Heading into Mediation

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NFL fans worried at the prospect of a Fall without football will be heartened by today’s breaking news that the NFL and NFL PLayers’ Association (NFLPA) have agreed to go to federal mediation commencing today, Friday 18th, 2011.

Speaking from Washington D.C. the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Director, George H. Cohen, issued the following statement:

I have had separate, informal discussions with the key representatives of the National Football League and the National Football League Players Association during the course of their negotiations for a successor collective bargaining agreement.

At the invitation of the FMCS, and with the agreement of both parties, the ongoing negotiations will now be conducted under my auspices in Washington, D.C. commencing Friday, February 18.

Due to the extreme sensitivity of these negotiations and consistent with the FMCS’s long-standing practice, the Agency will refrain from any public comment concerning the future schedule and/or the status of those negotiations until further notice.

The news came on the day that the Wall Street Journal writer, Matthew Futterman , wrote of the flattening of the NFL’s revenue stream.

Futterman noted that taxpaper money for new NFL stadiums has disappeared while average ticket revenue has flattened and the growth of broadcast revenue has slowed. Factor in the doubling of each NFL player’s compensation over the past decade and it becomes clear awhy Jeff Pash says:

A new Collective Bargaining Agreement tis necessary. to encourage growth in the game and allow both parties and the fans to benefit from what we accomplish at the negotiating table.

According to Futterman,

Ticket revenues have been essentially flat for the past three seasons and given the economy, owners sense they’ve hit a ceiling (the average ticket costs about $76). With governments at every level facing deficits, the subsidy well is all but dry.

Another season of record NFL ratings should boost revenues from the broadcast networks and satellite provider DirecTV, but not as dramatically,”

Futterman also notes.

Revenues from media rights increased to $3.8 billion for 2010 from $2.6 billion in 2005—a 46% increase. But between now and 2013, the final year of the new broadcast contracts, fees will only increase $350 million, or about 9%.

Add it all up and the owners are about $1 billion short of the growth in real dollars they were projecting the last time labor negotiations came down to the wire in 2006.”

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