With the Collective Bargaining Agreement between NFL owners and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) due to expire on March 4, the possibility of a player lockout looms large, and the league is warning fans about possible game cancellations and setting forth a refund policy for ticket holders.

The policy, announced this week, applies to general admission seats only, with refunds for club and other special seating, including personal seat licenses, being left up to the individual clubs. The policy guarantees full refunds for all pre-season and regular season home games which are cancelled due to a work stoppage.

Season and partial season ticket holders will receive their refunds either in the original form of payment or as credit toward payment on future tickets. Similarly, individual ticket holders will be offered their choice of a refund or a replacement ticket for a future game. The game selection will be at the discretion of the particular club and dictated by availability.

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Clubs have thirty days to make these refunds to fans once the readjusted 2011 schedule, if necessary, is established. In the meantime, season ticket holders should expect to hear from their teams in the coming weeks with specific information about purchase for the 2011 season.

In a statement that accompanied the League’s refund policy announcement, Commissioner Roger Goodell asserted, “We are working hard to secure an agreement with the union that is fair and forward-thinking to ensure our game is sound and strong well into the future. We know we will reach an agreement at some point. We all want football without interruption, but our fans are entitled to know now that they would receive refunds if any games are cancelled.”

In 2008, NFL owners decided to opt out of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement when it expires in March, hoping to negotiate better conditions in 2010. The NFLPA is intent on working with the current agreement and is challenging owners’ assertions that the agreement is detrimental to them.

Most recently, the players’ union has appealed to local and state officials for help with negotiating a new agreement and avoiding a lockout next year, and some members have attended a briefing before the U.S. Congress focusing on the possible harm of a work stoppage to local economies.