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League, union still separated by finances

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By PFW staff

Updated 4:50 p.m. ET

As the clock winds down toward the Friday deadline for the NFL and the players association to reach a deal on a new CBA, a major issue has been financial transparency. The NFLPA wants the league to open the books on all 32 teams for proof that the economics of the league need to be changed.

According to NFL general counsel Jeff Pash, that issue "really should be behind us." Pash told The Associated Press that the league has offered the union information that it doesn't even grant to the teams and is enough for the players to reach a deal.

"We've made more information available in the course of this negotiation than has ever been made available in decades of collective bargaining with the NFLPA," Pash said. "Far more information. And we've offered to make even more information (available), including information that we do not disclose to our own clubs."

The AP reports that this isn't the first time the players have asked to see the league's financial information.

In a letter dated May 18, 2009 — NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith asked Commissioner Roger Goodell to "provide audited financial statements concerning the operations of the 32 clubs and the league."

Smith attached a list of 10 categories of information he sought, including total operating income, total operating expenses, profit from operations, net income and cash and investment assets.

After Wednesday's negotiation session, Smith told reporters, "How much financial information would you want if you were being asked to write a $5 billion check?"

The NFL brings in approximately $9 billion a year in revenue and the largest disagreement between the two sides has been how to split that up. The owners have asked the players to make some concessions to help the league restore financial stability, but the NFLPA has demanded the league provide proof that they are struggling by declassifying their financial records from the past 10 years.

The way we see it

It's hard to imagine the NFLPA budging on this issue in the coming days. Unless the league opens all the books and allows the union to really see where every penny goes and what gains or losses are being made by the teams, the union will be reluctant to make any sort of deal. If the deadline does come and no agreement has been reached, it is expected that the union will decertify and selective players will take the owners to court.

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