World Cup-bound referee Mark Geiger, center, will be back working MLS matches after the referee lockout ended Thursday. (Bob Levey/Getty Images)
MLS' foray into replacement referees is over after two weeks of matches.
Professional Referee Organization and Professional Soccer Referees Association reached an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement, allowing the league's established referees to return to work this weekend while the replacement referees who worked the opening 16 games of the MLS season will no longer be needed.
In a statement released in the early hours of Thursday morning PSRA said:
PSRA is pleased to announce that an agreement has been reached with PRO regarding an historic Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for PSRA Bargaining Unit Members who make up the pool of Full-time and Part-time referees, Assistant Referees, and Fourth Officials working games in Major League Soccer. The agreement was reached at the bargaining table with the help of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS). Terms of the CBA are not being released.
PSRA’s Negotiation Committee “tentatively agreed” to terms on the entire CBA on Tuesday, the PSRA Board of Directors approved the CBA on Wednesday, and by Wednesday night the PSRA Membership ratified the CBA. The ratification of the CBA and acceptance by the PRO Board effectively ends the lockout of PRO/PSRA officials in time to have them take charge of MLS games this coming weekend.
PRO GM Peter Walton added a statement of his own Thursday, saying: “We are looking forward to having our referees back on the field and officiating games. The new agreement will provide important benefits to our referees while ensuring that PRO will be able to achieve its goal of developing and employing world-class referees for the competitions we serve.”