Score one for the players.
Late this afternoon, U.S. District Court Judge Susan NelsonÂ ruled in favor of the players’ injunction request, lifting the league-imposed lockout.
The NFL will appeal the ruling and ask for an immediate stay.
“We believe that federal law bars injunctions in labor disputes. We are confident that the Eighth Circuit will agree. But we also believe that this dispute will inevitably end with a collective bargaining agreement, which would be in the best interests of players, clubs and fans. We can reach a fair agreement only if we continue negotiations toward that goal.”
The league locked out players March 11 after both sides failed to reach a new collective bargaining agreement. Â Judge Nelson heard the players’ injunction request to lift the lockout at a hearing April 6. Â Since then, the league and players have resumed labor negotiations, but those are on hold until mid-May.
In her ruling, Judge Nelson wrote the playersÂ ”have made a strong showing that allowing the League to continue their ‘lockout’ is presently inflicting, and will continue to inflict, irreparable harm upon them, particularly when weighed against the lack of any real injury that would be imposed on the NFL by issuing the preliminary injunction.”
What does this mean?
The NFL lockout is lifted…for now. Â The league will ask for an immediate stay to essentially “unlift” the lockout while the ruling goes through the appeals process. Â Judy Battista of the New York Times estimates that will take about a month – Â maybe longer. Â If the stay is denied, then yes, the lockout is over, CBA or not.
What are the league’s chances?
The NFL is confident it will get the immediate stay. Â Winning this round is certainly an advantage for the players, but the league likes its odds in the appeals court. Â Battista writes some legal insiders believe the Eighth Circuit is “business-friendly,” and, as a result, may sympathize with the league.
What about free agency?
No one really knows. Â It depends on what happens with the stay request. Â Plus, without a CBA, how would the league handle free agency or trades? Â Right now, no such guidelines are in place.