The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals today granted a permanent stay to keep the NFL’s lockout of its players in place, saying it believed the league has proven it will suffer financial harm if players were allowed back to work. The court is the same one that granted a temporary stay of the order April 29, four days after a U.S. District Court judge in Minnesota ruled that the lockout be lifted. The lockout of players — which the league imposed after the collective bargaining agreement expired and labor talks broke down — began March 11, threatening the upcoming season and the lucrative TV contracts that are attached to it. (NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt said Sunday that the network’s “worst-case scenario” is that the season will be delayed by a few weeks, but that it is prepping “high-quality, live-entertainment, reality-type shows” to fill the gap if it can’t air Sunday Night Football, the peacock network’s highest-rated show.)
Meanwhile, layers and owners have resumed court-ordered mediation over a new labor contract. The Associated Press reported that the sides met for at least seven hours Monday. But it seems clear now that the courts are going to be the place where the fate of the upcoming season will be decided, not the bargaining table. If so, don’t expect much until the next court date, on the validity of the lockout, set for June 3.