After a difficult 2020 season when Subaru Park was mostly empty due to Covid-19 restrictions, Philadelphia Union supporters have seen their hopes for a better 2021 season replaced in recent weeks with anxiety over a potential lockout.
MLS recently informed team front offices to prepare for a lockout if an agreement isn’t reached with the Players Association by this Thursday. The two sides reached an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement a year ago but it was never ratified and there’s been a stalemate on reaching terms on a new agreement.
“2020 has been a difficult year to say the least but the one bright spot was having the team to cheer for as they completed their most successful season in franchise history,” Sons of Ben President Matt Gendaszek said in a news release sent out on Monday. “We have all been looking forward to 2021 and the hope that we all would be back cheering for our boys in blue. This announcement (of a potential lockout) takes away that hope.”
The Sons of Ben news release on the subject followed one issued Monday morning by the Independent Supporters Council.
“Throughout the continuing negotiations and despite the concessions they have already made, the players have made themselves clear; they want to play,” the ICS statement read in part. “They want to play, not just because of their love for the game, but for the cities they represent when they walk on the field. They want to play for the supporters in the stands and at home. They want to play to continue bringing our communities together.”
Sons of Ben Travel Director Heather Reppert, who was already starting to reach out to fans about potential road trips for the 2021 season, voiced concern about the impact a lockout could have not only for the players and the fans but also “an already fragile American soccer ecosystem.”
“At the end of the day, we fight for the players and the players fight for us,” Reppert said in the news release. “Nothing was more special last year than to celebrate with our players (whether virtually or the lucky few in person) as they raised our first trophy. It’s a special bond that is the momentum that keeps the league going. Without that there is no league.”