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Contract negotiations and the NFL referee lockout

There is no doubt that a number of our readers are Denver Broncos fans or fans of the NFL in general so we thought it might interesting to highlight the ongoing contract dispute between the National Football League and the referee's union. The NFL is big business to be sure with $9 billion in annual revenue. The fallout of the failed contract negotiations thus far has been a real sore spot for fans and the league's reputation in general. Many pundits and columnists are calling for the head of the NFL, Roger Goodell to resign from his post in light of the debacle that this week's NFL games have entailed.

No, were not a sports blog however we must recap exactly what this debacle is in order to demonstrate the importance of efficient and effective contract negotiations in business, any business. What we have with the NFL is a lockout of the league's official referees and instead have replacement referees officiating games. These replacements come from a variety of places, including college and arena football. And the results, especially if you are a Green Bay Packer's fan, have been disastrous.

We won't go into just what happened Monday night, suffice it to say the refs blew a call which resulted in the wrong team winning the game, according to a multitude of reports and highlight videos. This blown call came a day after numerous bad calls and complaints about the replacement officials after Sunday's NFL games. So what exactly is behind this lockout and contract dispute? For starters, negotiators cannot agree on just how much the NFL should contribute to the retirement accounts of the league's referees.

The disputed amount appears to be only $5 million the referee union wants added to the NFL's contribution to retirement accounts, a pittance to the league's $9 billion in revenue. According to this report, not one of the league's 31 owners has agreed to end the lockout and increase the retirement contribution amount. The vote of the team's owners is what needs to happen to end the lockout - the integrity of the game is in their hands, so to speak.

This particular contract dispute seriously highlights the importance for a business to have solid legal representation when negotiating important contracts, be they employment contracts, business contracts or union contracts. A business's bottom line just may depend on it. Finally, it was reported just today that the union and team owners came to an agreement.

Source: PBS NewsHour, "Questionable Call Spotlights Ongoing NFL Labor Dispute," Frank N. Carlson, Sept. 25, 2012

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