The NFL’s labour dispute took a fresh twist on Tuesday, with players barred from team workouts despite a judge lifting lockout orders.
US District Court Judge Susan Nelson ordered the league to remove their month-long lockout on Monday, paving the way for players to return to team facilities and began working out in preparation for the coming pre-season.
But the NFL immediately requested a stay of her order pending an appeal, and Judge Nelson said she would not rule on the matter until at least Wednesday.
That left the players in limbo for yet another day, with many let inside team facilities for the first time in 45 days but told they were not allowed to work out.
Lawyers for the NFL have indicated they will file with the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in a bid to restore their lockout, arguing that Judge Nelson has no jurisdiction on labour disputes as they are a matter for the National Labour Relations Board.
If Judge Nelson agrees to the NFL’s motion on Wednesday, the lockout would immediately be restored and players barred from entering team facilities once more.
The league, team owners and players are debating the percentage split of US$9 billion in revenue generated by the NFL, with owners suggesting they need to receive a bigger split of the funding due to the rising costs of running a team.
But an antitrust lawsuit brought by 10 players – including stars Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees – argues there is a lack of evidence to support this claim.
The dispute has been derided as a row between billionaires and millionaires by a disgruntled American public and media, with even US President Barack Obama openly critical of the failed efforts to find an equitable solution.
The 2011 season is due to get underway on September 8, when the New Orleans Saints travel to Lambeau Field to take on the Super Bowl-winning Green Bay Packers.
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