Union reaches out to arbitrator

Updated: December 21, 2009, 8:27 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The NFL Players Association is fighting the league's attempt to dismantle part of the revenue sharing program.

The NFL notified the players' union that effective in March, owners will pull the plug on the $100 million-per-year revenue-sharing program that has subsidized lower-revenue clubs, multiple sources told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen on Dec. 6.

On Monday, the NFLPA did indeed send a letter to an NFL arbitrator saying that the collective bargaining agreement prohibits the NFL's decision without union approval.

The union also argued that the impact to lower revenue clubs is actually $200 million, double what the league estimated.

Special master Stephen Burbank, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, is responsible for resolving collective bargaining disputes between the NFL and the NFLPA.

Management counters that the supplemental model pertained only to salary-capped seasons; 2010 is scheduled to be uncapped.

Approximately eight to 12 lower-revenue teams have qualified on a yearly basis to draw from the supplemental pool. The fund is part of $6.5 billion in revenues shared by all clubs.

Senior ESPN NFL analyst Chris Mortensen contributed to this report.

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