A federal judge has sided with NFL players and granted their request for a preliminary injunction to lift the lockout.

U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson issued her ruling on Monday, giving the players an early victory in their fight with NFL owners over a new collective bargaining agreement in the $9 billion business.

Owners had imposed the lockout after talks broke down on March 11 and the players disbanded their union. The players say the lockout is causing irreparable harm to their careers. A group of players filed the injunction request along with an antitrust lawsuit against the league.

The owners argued it was their right to institute the lockout. They are expected to appeal Nelson’s ruling.

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