NLL Insider has learned through a source close to the situation that the National Lacrosse League and National Lacrosse League Official’s Association are currently at a standoff in recent contract negotiations, the league presenting their final offer to the officials group this past week, the offer rejected by the NLLOA.
With the rejection of what was described as their “last offer”, the league has now cutoff direct negotiations with the NLLOA and is offering contracts on an individual basis to both referees currently members of the NLLOA and others at varying levels of play.
In a statement issued by the league to NLL Insider late Tuesday evening, NLL commissioner George Daniel states, “During the course of the off-season, the NLL attempted to reach accord with the NLLOA on a contract for the 2010 season.
“With the opening of league training camps this weekend and the season rapidly approaching, we must make the necessary arrangements for our referee staff and could no longer engage in negotiations.”
NLL Insider has also learned that the previous agreement between the two sides actually commenced at the end of the 2008 season, the referees and former NLL commissioner Jim Jennings agreeing to a deal in principal for the 2009 season.
That deal was never officially signed by Jennings, who unexpectedly stepped down from his role with the league at the start of last year’s season, however, the verbally agreed on contract was used last year, but never officially endorsed by the NLL to date.
The league maintains that although the departure of Jennings coincided with the renegotiation of the official’s contract last year, the two are separate issues entirely, and that at the end of the day, although both sides agreed to proceed in principal during the ‘09 season, there was never any formal agreement signed with the NLLOA for 2010 or beyond, with various issues still needed to be addressed before they were willing to finalize anything.
The NLL has confirmed through their statement issued to NLL Insider last night that the contract being offered on an individual basis to referees currently, is the rejected “last offer” presented to the NLLOA earlier this week, not the agreement used during the 2009 season.
Although NLL Insider was unable to confirm which officials may have accepted the individual offer presented by the NLL, Daniel states, “The league has received back signed contracts from a number of veteran NLL officials and we can now meet our staffing needs for the 2010 season.”
NLL Insider was however able to confirm that contracts were presented to past officials the league had stopped using in previous seasons for performance related issues. It’s unknown if those particular officials have accepted the league’s indiviudal offer sent out this week.
The league does maintain though that veteran referees who officiated in the NLL last year have indeed signed an inividual contract with them since their “last offer” was rejected by the NLLOA. NLL Insider was unable to confirm at this time who those officials might be.
Sources had indicated to NLL Insider that one of the main sticking points currently holding up an agreement between the two sides is the compensation of the technical/third referee, the NLLOA apparently looking for the same compensation they received last season, the league presumably offering less than what was paid during the 2009 season.
Although NLL Insider was unable to confirm exact figures, sources say that the amounts being haggled over between the two sides would likely cost each of the league’s eleven teams an additional approximate cost of $1,400 to somewhere under $2,000 for the entire season.
At this point however, based on Daniel’s statement, the league appears set to move on with the officials they currently have on board for 2010 under their latest offer, Daniel adding, “We will now begin assigning, arrange for travel and other preparations with the officials who have signed contracts for the upcoming season.
“We are confident that the staff for the 2010 season will maintain the league’s standards for officiating.”
Sources tell NLL Insider that the NLLOA is still willing to negotiate and are hopeful a deal can be reached, willing to accept last year’s principal deal as the second year of a hoped for three year contract.
It’s also unclear at this point if and when a potential largely new staff of officials would be trained heading into the 2010 season, the league cancelling their annual weekend clinic session earlier this off-season. The clinic is normally held prior to the start of the NLL regular season for refreshers, the discussion of any new rules and focus calls.The foremost boxla writer, Tutka is a former NLL scout and a longtime Inside Lacrosse contributor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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