Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Judge rules to end NFL lockout

Judge rules to end NFL lockout, antitrust claims remain unresolved.

The Washington Post (4/25, Maske) reported on Monday, a Federal judge sided with NFL players in lifting the league-imposed lockout, "ruling that they are suffering irreparable harm from the shutdown of the sport and that the owners' action is improper because the players no longer are represented by a labor union." According to sources, both sides "believed [Judge Susan Richard] Nelson's ruling" opened the free agent market and "several people on the players' side of the dispute said they expected some players to show up for work Tuesday at teams' facilities."

Reuters (4/26) reports in her 89-page ruling, Nelson wrote, "This particular employment dispute is far from a purely private argument over compensation," noting "the public interest represented by the fans of professional football, who have a strong investment in the 2011 season, is an intangible interest that weighs against the lockout." How league owners and players will resolve disputes over the NFL's nine billion-dollar yearly revenue is still unclear.

The Wall Street Journal (4/25, Futterman, Subscription Publication) reported in response to Nelson's ruling, an NFL statement asserted, "We will promptly seek a stay from Judge Nelson pending an expedited appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals...We believe that federal law bars injunctions in labor disputes." Referring to players' antitrust claims, the league added, "But we also believe that this dispute will inevitably end with a collective bargaining agreement, which would be in the best interests of players, clubs and fans. We can reach a fair agreement only if we continue negotiations toward that goal."

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