After weeks of negotiations, and two weeks of replacement referees, Major League Soccer will welcome back its regular match officials this weekend after the referees' union agreed to a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement late Wednesday evening.
The Professional Soccer Referee's Association (PSRA) announced on Wednesday that the lockout that had kept regular refs from officiating the first two weeks of the 2014 MLS season has come to an end after another lengthy night of negotiations yielded a deal.
Steve Taylor, lead negotiator for PSRA, released the following statement on late Wednesday evening:
"PRSA 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 Concilliation Service (FCMS). Terms of the CBA are not being released."
Regular match officials will return to MLS action this weekend, though Major League Soccer had yet to confirm the reaching of an agreement with the PSRA.
Replacement referees were used during the first two weeks of the MLS season, and that group of replacement received mixed reviews. The number of yellow cards show in league play went up through the first two weeks of the MLS season as compared to the 2013 season, though there were several well-called matches during the first two weeks of the season.
The agreement covers professional referees from the United States and Canada.