WASHINGTON (AP) -The NFL players' union filed a grievance against the league Thursday, charging the owners colluded by reducing the debt ceiling for every team by 20 percent. The union said the reduction coincides with what in 2010 could be a year without a salary cap.
The filing is the latest discord between the league and the NFL Players Association over the contract extension agreed to in March 2006. NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw expects the league to opt out of the deal in November, which could lead to 2010 being an uncapped year. A salary cap has been in place since 1993.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy called the grievance ``inexplicable and totally lacking in merit.''
The case will be heard by Stephen Burbank, a special master based at the University of Pennsylvania.
Upshaw said in a statement announcing the grievance that the reduction is ``part of a broader scheme in which the owners are colluding to reduce spending on player salaries.''
``It's no coincidence that this measure has a deadline which comes just before the 2010 league year, when there would be no cap,'' he said.
``It makes no sense to reduce the debt limit at a time when league revenues are increasing from approximately $7 billion to $9 billion, and we can only conclude that the owners did this to hurt the players. Our CBA prohibits such conduct.''
The NFL noted the owners made the decision in October in light of the ``current turmoil in the economy, which has only gotten worse in the intervening four months.''
McCarthy said the reduction could amount to $30 million a team and will have no impact on the league's financial obligations to players under the collective bargaining agreement.

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