MINNEAPOLIS, MN (Sports Network) – U.S. District Judge David Doty has ruled NFL owners have violated their agreement with the NFL Players Association by setting aside $4 billion in additional television revenue, in the event the sides could not agree on a new collective bargaining agreement by Thursday’s deadline.
The union accused the league of putting together contracts that ensure the owners would get money from networks even if there was a lockout in 2011, while not getting the most revenue possible in other seasons when it would have to be shared with players.
Special master Stephen Burbank did not find the league in violation of the contract, but Doty overruled that decision.
“This ruling means there is irrefutable evidence that owners had a premeditated plan to lock out players and fans for more than two years,” the NFLPA said in a statement Tuesday. “The players want to play football. That is the only goal we are focused on.”
The court has called for a hearing to determine compensation for the players.
The NFL and the players union resumed talks with federal mediators Tuesday after a four-day break, and plan to do so again on Wednesday.
At issue between the players and owners is how to divide about $9 billion in annual revenues, a rookie wage scale, expanding the regular season from 16 games to 18 while reducing the preseason by two games and benefits for retired players.