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MLS prepared to start season without regular refs

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 4, 2014 at 5:11 pm •  Published: March 4, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Soccer is prepared to start the new season this weekend even if a labor dispute with its regular referees and other match officials isn't resolved in time.

The dispute is between the Professional Soccer Referee Association, which represents MLS referees, assistant referees and fourth officials, and the Professional Referee Organization, which was created by the U.S. Soccer Federation and MLS in 2012 to manage match officials in U.S. and Canadian professional leagues.

The PSRA has filed a pair of unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board, accusing the PRO of bad-faith bargaining and making threats against PSRA members.

PSRA members voted 64-1 last month to authorize a strike.

"We will be opening up this weekend with referees, and we are absolutely in a position to have a contingency plan in the event that those discussions don't end positively," MLS Commissioner Don Garber said on Tuesday.

"We have so many things that we're gearing up for with our 2014 season. Nothing is going to stop us from having a strong opening and to continue to grow this league."

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