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Half of Fans Expect NFL, Union to Avoid Work Stoppage, Poll Says

Feb. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Almost half of Americans who are aware of the National Football League’s labor dispute think it will be resolved before a work stoppage, according to a Seton Hall Sports Poll.

The survey, conducted last week by Seton Hall University’s Sharkey Institute, showed that 49 percent of those fans expect a new labor deal to be reached in time, 23 percent expect a work stoppage and 29 percent are undecided. Of the 822 respondents, 21 percent side with the players and 18 percent with the owners.

“It’s early in the game, but sympathies are divided,” Rick Gentile, director of the South Orange, New Jersey-based Seton Hall Sports Poll, said today in a statement. “This has a long way to play out, but for now, neither side can claim that the public is in their corner.”

NFL owners voted in 2008 to opt out of the collective bargaining agreement after this season. Among the topics under discussion are revenue distribution, whether to expand the regular season to 18 games from 16 and health care. The current CBA expires March 3.

The poll found that 65 percent of men and 36 percent of women are aware of the labor dispute. Of those aware of the talks, 57 percent believe players deserve to see the teams’ financial records before considering a lower share of the revenue.

Yesterday, the two sides canceled a negotiating session in Washington. The league and union met previously in Dallas on Feb. 5. Before that meeting NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said “intensive, round-the-clock” negotiations would be necessary for the two sides to reach an agreement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eben Novy-Williams in New York enovywilliam@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net.

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