Union: NFL hasn't properly shared revenue funds; league denies it

NEW YORK -- The NFL Players Association accused the league of not sharing as much supplemental revenue with its lower-income teams as required.

Jeffrey Kessler, the outside counsel for the NFLPA, said Tuesday that a filing by the union is a result of its conclusion that the league violated the terms of the collective bargaining agreement and the supplemental revenue-sharing plan.

"The NFLPA is filing this new proceeding because it has discovered that the NFL did not provide its lower-revenue clubs with all of the supplemental revenue sharing that was promised in the CBA for the years 2006-08," Kessler said. "Such funds are important to insure that the lower-revenue teams can field competitive teams, offer competitive salaries and provide their fans with hope for success on the field each NFL season."

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League spokesman Greg Aiello said the NFL has abided by the system, which was put into place with the 2006 CBA, and hasn't hurt any low-revenue teams. Teams must qualify -- in essence, show they need the money -- to receive the supplemental funds.

"Qualifiers have been part of the supplemental revenue-sharing system since its inception," Aiello said. "The union approved the use of qualifiers in the CBA. The operation of the qualifiers has been consistent with the resolution adopted when the extension was approved and has not disadvantaged any low-revenue club."

Despite the league saying it hasn't violated the CBA or SRS plan, Kessler said the union insists there was a shortfall in the amount of supplemental revenue sharing from 2006 to 2008, possibly in the tens of millions of dollars.

"What we would like to have happen is find out how much the program was shorted and then to make sure that that money is applied in the way it was intended," Kessler said.

The union won a previous decision from Special Master Stephen Burbank in Philadelphia earlier this month. Burbank ruled that the league must continue the SRS plan in the 2010 season -- even if uncapped.

"We are surprised that the NFL seems intent on not living up to its revenue-sharing agreement," Kessler said, "and that the union has now been forced to file a second proceeding to enforce the supplemental revenue-sharing program provided for in the CBA."

Without a deal in the next few weeks to preserve labor peace, NFL teams will operate next season without a salary cap. And if no deal can be reached next season, a work stoppage could occur in 2011.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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