Sunday, January 3, 2010

Thoughts from Garth Lagerwey: Part V – Effects of CBA negotiations

This is the final segment of a 5-part series with thoughts from Real Salt Lake General Manager Garth Lagerwey.

I wanted to get his thoughts on the following topics:

Here is part 5:

The collective bargaining negotiations in Major League Soccer are bound to have many impacts.  Since the league is a single-entity system, the negotiations are technically between the league and the players union, with little involvement from the individual clubs.  I’ve asked Garth Lagerwey about the status of these discussions on several occasions, and he genuinely acts like he has little information (although it’s also possible that he’s subject to a gag rule of sorts).  However, he’s clearly planning for all possibilities during this offseason.

My first concern was how the CBA negotiations would affect the preseason plans.

“We signed up for the Carolina Cup, and we’re close to locking down the first segment of our preseason which looks like it’s going to be somewhere out west. All of those contracts have clauses that say in the event of a work stoppage we won’t be participating. You have to make those plans, but you try to do so in a way that isn’t damaging to the club in the event of a work stoppage.”

My next concern was how the CBA negotiations would impact the clubs ability to recruit foreign players.

“For the foreign players you are just not going to get into it (the CBA negotiations). You are just going to say here is what we are willing to commit at this point and that is what is. My job is always about making your best guess about how things are going to come out. So you make a prediction and you try to allocate resources according to that best guess, and you try to get a contract done. With the foreign signings it tends to be strike while the anvil is hot. Either the player is interested or he is not. And he’s either going to play in the salary range that you want him to play in or he won’t. Those conversations are often very brief. So if you have someone who is interested, then there is usually a way to get a deal done – at least to have him come in and have us have a look at him.”

I also wanted to understand how the CBA and the January transfer window could play out.  From Lagerwey’s perspective a delay in getting the CBA renewed may slow things down, but wouldn’t be the end of the world.

“It’s short in Europe, but you need to remember our window is from January 15th to April 15th. Often times, the high-priced guys don’t become available until after the Europe window closes, because everybody thinks that they can sign in Europe for a million dollars. It turns out that not all of them can, and they reduce their expectations in some cases, and our willing to come for a lot less in February. I would suspect that you may not hear anything for a long time, but then you may hear a lot all of the sudden.”

This is probably especially relevant since Real Salt Lake has shown a propensity for recruiting from South America.  Recent reports had RSL looking at a couple of players from Quilmes, but apparently losing out on both of them.

For RSL’s GM, the important thing is to be ready for any outcome.

“The CBA is the primary piece, and you need to be ready to go when it closes.”

I hope you enjoyed this series.  This was the final installment.  Look for more good things to come in 2010!