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Strike over: PRO and referees agree on new CBA



Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

After a 37-day lockout and 6 Major League Soccer matchdays, MLS will have members from the Professional Soccer Referees Association (PSRA) on the sidelines this weekend. This comes as the Professional Referee Origination (PRO) and PSRA agreed to a new seven-year collective bargaining agreement. The new CBA runs until January 31, 2031.

ESPN reports that the new agreement adds “several million” in wages to referees, assistant referees, VAR officials and assistant VAR officials. Base pay and match fees will reportedly increase as well depending on the level of the referee’s experience. The article also breaks down the overall increase percentage of the CBA, which for the first year is 28.36%. It will then increase by 3% in 2025, 7% in 2026, 3% in the years 2027 and 2028. In 2029 and 2030 the increase will be 4%.

In response to the news of the new CBA, PSRA released an official statement on X. In part it thanks everyone who stood with them. PSRA continues by saying “Together, we have won much-needed improvements while demonstrating the value of having the best referees in Major League Soccer on the pitch.

Pro’s general manager Mark Geiger released a statement through PRO’s website.

“We look forward to welcoming our senior match officials back this upcoming match round. It has been a difficult time for everyone as we worked to reach an agreement.

This seven-year term provides enhanced pay and benefits for all officials and the stability that will support the growth of the professional game in the United States and Canada.

On behalf of PRO, I would like to thank the PSRA negotiating team and the federal mediator for their commitment to finding a mutually agreeable conclusion to these negotiations and their hard work in finalizing the terms.

We now move forward together with renewed positivity as PRO continues to lead the way in developing world-class match officials.”

Major league soccer, whose games are normally covered by PRO match officials, released a statement announcing that they were pleased to head about the new agreement. They also took the time to thank PRO and the match officials who have worked to cover the 70 MLS games since the start of the 2024 season. MLS Executive Vice President of Sporting Product & Competition Nelson Rodríguez’s statement also talked about how they league was looking forward tot he PRO match officials returning the weekend. The full statement is listed below.

“Major League Soccer has some of the best match officials in the world, and PRO’s new CBA with PSRA recognizes that by committing substantial resources to the referee program — an investment that ranks among the highest for any global soccer league. We’re pleased this agreement provides PRO with a strong, long-term partnership to continue to develop and train the referees to make our officiating even better.

We thank PRO and the match officials who’ve worked selflessly since the start of the 2024 MLS season. Many of these officials were already advancing toward becoming PRO match officials, and their participation provided important on-field experience, which will continue to benefit PRO, MLS and all the other leagues in the future.

We look forward to having the PRO match officials return this weekend, and we thank MLS players, coaches and clubs for their professionalism, and our fans for their support throughout the opening month of the season.”

Fans who have watched the games since the start of the season are definitely excited to have the PRO officials back as well. As while the statement from the league thanks the referees for covering the games, it wasn’t all good at times. Let’s revisit the ending of the Philadelphia Union’s March 2nd game against Sporting KC. The Union were given a corner kick at the closing seconds of the game, which Alejandro Bedoya converted to tie the game. However the play leading up to the corner would go out of play near midfield. While the refs signaled that it was the Union’s ball, replay suggested otherwise. That wasn’t the only issue either.

Another high profile story from the same weekend came from the Inter Miami – Orlando City game. A referee originally signed to that match was replaced after images on social media surfaced of him wearing a Inter Miami jersey.

Lets not talk about all of the VAR checks we have seen in recent weeks. It was even a talking point from PSRA on the social media platform X, where they posted a graphic about the number of game-critical errors that had to be checked as opposed to last season. Through 2 weeks of play out of 29 games, there were 22 reviews this season. Looking at the supplied data for the 2023 season, that same span a time the PSRA refs only had 2.

While the refs will be returning this weekend, its unclear when some of the new initiatives set out by the league will get underway. It was back in December when the league announced the new rules to “speed up the game”. These initiatives included Off-Field treatment, timed substitutions, return to play equity, In-Stadium VAR announcements and changes to the stoppage time clock. PRO assistant video referee Jonathan Johnson did talked about the initiatives and other things in a series of posts on the social media platform X, saying those initiatives will becoming to the games soon.

Sean Sullivan is an Associate Editor for Philadelphia Soccer Now/Brotherly Game, where he has spent the past few years covering game day events for the Philadelphia Union. In his day job, he oversees creative and studio production for a corporate event streaming company based in the Philadelphia region.

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