League and union agree to series of labor talks

NEW YORK (Reuters) - In a bid to "intensify" labor talks, the National Football League and the union representing its players have agreed to a series of talks starting on Saturday in the Dallas area.

NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith and league Commissioner Roger Goodell met in New York on Monday to discuss a range of issues related to a new collective bargaining agreement.

"As part of a process to intensify negotiations, they agreed to hold a formal bargaining session with both negotiating teams on Saturday," a joint statement said.

"They also agreed to a series of meetings over the next few weeks, both formal bargaining sessions and smaller group meetings, in an effort to reach a new agreement by early March."

NFL owners and players are trying to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement to replace the one that expires March 4 in an attempt to avert a potential lock-out of players.

Key issues include how league revenues will be split by the sides, the possible move to an 18-game regular season, a rookie wage scale and pensions for former players.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers meet in Dallas on February 6 in Super Bowl XLV.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Nick Mulvenney)