NFL players approve new labour deal to end lockout

The four-and-a-half-month National Football League (NFL) lockout came to an end on Monday after the players’ union unanimously agreed to a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with team owners.

Player representatives from all 32 NFL teams unanimously voted to approve a new contract over how to split US$9 billion in annual revenues. The team owners last week gave their support to the new CBA, and on Monday the NFL Players’ Association backed the agreement, which does not contain an opt-out clause.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. “Football is back and that’s the great news for everybody. I want to thank all of the players for their leadership and for securing the long-term future of the game. Having a 10-year agreement is extraordinarily great for our game, but most importantly our fans. I think this agreement is going to make our game better.”

The union’s executive director, DeMaurice Smith, welcomed the end of the NFL’s first work stoppage since 1987 by saying: “I know it has been a very long process since the day we stood here that night in March, but our guys stood together when nobody thought we would and football is back because of it. I believe it’s important that we talk about the future of football as a partnership.”

The new CBA has secured team owners 53% of revenues – higher than the 50-50 split with players under the previous deal, as well as better benefits for players and faster free agency for some. On Tuesday, players are expected to return to training at NFL team facilities and franchises are expected to begin signing free agents and rookies.

“We want to thank the fans who stuck with us,” NFL Players’ Association president Kevin Mawae added. “This has been a long road for everyone involved. This settlement is an essential component to what will be a long-term agreement benefitting players, owners and fans.” The season will now kick-off as scheduled at Lambeau Field on September 8, with the New Orleans Saints taking on the Green Bay Packers.

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