As if we needed another example of owners chasing the bottom line instead of doing what's right.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the NFL owners have "mischaracterized...roughly $120 million of ticket revenue during the past three years by creating an exemption that had the effect of keeping about $50 million in salary out of the players' pockets."
Essentially, the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) lays out that players will receive 40% of revenues from ticket sales, with a few explicit, and agreed upon, exceptions. The owners can withhold money from personal seal licenses (PSLs) and premium seating, and the players agreed to these terms.
But the owners decided to category roughly $120 million of revenue under a "waived gate" class, and unilaterally decided that they didn't have to share that with the players.
The Players Association discovered the accounting methods during an audit of the league and appealed the decision since they explicitly agreed to exempt a couple types of revenue, but "waived gate" wasn't one of them.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell heard the appeal and determined that his bosses did nothing wrong and that the prior judgment would stand. The fact that the owners made up rules as they went and tried apply a new rule that didn't apply per the CBA resonated with Goodell and ultimately swayed his decision. Goodell has penalized the Patriots their 2017 1st round pick for their churlish behavior.
Ha ha, just kidding. University of Pennsylvania Law School Professor Stephen Burbank acts as the federal court appointed neutral arbitrator for appeals regarding the CBA and "ordered the NFL to return the money to the shared revenue pool immediately."
The NFL issued a statement to the Wall Street Journal describing the incident as a "technical accounting issue under the CBA involving the funding of stadium construction and renovation projects."
The Players Association believes that the rectification of the, ahem, technical accounting issue, will increase the salary cap in 2016 by a further $1.5 million per team.