The NFL Players Association is charging the NFL Management Council with short-changing low-revenue clubs on the amount of money that has been distributed from the supplemental revenue pool, according to the union's filing Tuesday with the Special Master.
Specifically, the NFLPA states that the Management Council recently informed the union that it distributed just $68.3 million in 2006, $90.2 million in 2007 and $94.7 million in 2008 to those low-revenue clubs that were deemed qualified for supplemental invoke. The scheduled amounts of money per the labor agreement, the union claims, should have been $100 million in 2006, $105 million in 2007 and $120 million in 2008.
"What we would like to have happen is find out how much the program was shorted and then to make sure that that money is applied in the way it was intended," said Jeffrey Kessler, the outside counsel for the NFLPA.
The Management Council argued that it was granted discretion on a formula to determine which clubs qualified for the supplemental income and, apparently, the amounts distributed to each club.
A league spokesman said, "Qualifiers have been part of the supplemental revenue sharing system since its inception. The union approved the use of qualifiers in the CBA. The operation of the qualifiers has been consistent with the resolution adopted when the extension was approved and has not disadvantaged any low-revenue club. We are confident that the operation of the system will be upheld by the Special Master."
The union countered in its complaint to Special Master Stephen Burbank: "The qualifier provisions only concern the standards for determining which teams qualify for a distribution; they have nothing to do with determining the total amount of money in the RSM pool to be distributed among those teams that qualify."
Burbank ruled recently that the league could not disband the supplemental revenue pool as it had planned for the uncapped 2010 season. The projected monies for that pool were $220 million.
"Such funds are important to insure that the lower-revenue teams can field competitive teams, offer competitive salaries and provide their fans with hope for success on the field each NFL season," Kessler said.
Without a deal in the next few weeks to preserve labor peace, teams will operate next season without a salary cap. And if no deal can be reached next season, a work stoppage could occur in 2011.
Chris Mortensen is a senior NFL analyst for ESPN. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.