After a successful jersey launch last night at the New York fashion show to kickoff the 25th Anniversary of Major League Soccer (MLS), the MLS and the MLS Players Union (MLSPA) just announced that both sides reached (on principle) a new five-year collective bargaining agreement that will run until January 31st, 2025, covering five full seasons from 2020 to 2024.
“As we prepare to celebrate our 25th season, we are very pleased to finalize a new five-year Collective Bargaining Agreement with our players,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a league statement. “This agreement addresses key strategic priorities for the league and our players while also retaining the basic player compensation structure that has been the foundation for the growth and stability of Major League Soccer.”
“Over the past two years, we have engaged in a substantive, comprehensive negotiation process with the league. We believe that the sweeping changes and increased investment in this agreement will not only be integral to the league’s continued growth, but will also move MLS closer to the systems in place in overseas leagues with which we aspire to compete,” said Executive Director of the MLSPA Bob Foose in a statement.
The biggest highlight of the new agreement is that now more Major League Soccer players will be eligible for free agency under the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement.
Under the most recent CBA, to be eligible for free agency a player needed to be 28 years old and have eight years of service in the league. Under the new CBA, the eligibility has been expanded to include players who are 24 years old with five years of service in the league.
The new CBA also places a cap on how much of an increase in compensation that free agents can earn. In addition, players making above the maximum salary budget, including Designated Players, will now also be eligible for free agency based on specific guidelines.
Here are a few other takeaways for the new CBA:
Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) is now General Allocation Money (GAM) giving teams more budget flexibility across the entire roster. Over the last three season teams were given $1.2million from the MLS to target or keep players within a specific salary budget.
Under the new CBA, the $1.2million can now be used across the entire roster, not just a few players. Additionally, as the amount of guaranteed spending across the entire roster increases over each of the next five seasons.
Teams are now required to use charter flights under the new agreement. The new CBA now says that clubs will be required to use charter flights for at least eight legs of travel during the 2020 regular season, growing to 16 legs for the 2024 season.
In the past, teams had the discretion to use chartered flights, but it wasn’t a requirement. Also, it is now required for teams to use charter flights for all Audi MLS Cup Playoff matches and Concacaf Champions League games involving international travel.
With the new CBA, the MLS is encouraging teams to sign players under 22-years old. Named the “Under-22” player initiative, the league will have the discretion to allow clubs to sign up to three players who are 22 years old or younger on a reduced charge to a club’s salary budget.
There will now be league discretion regarding clubs signing a third designated player to the maximum Target Allocated salary. Clubs will still have the right to sign up to three designated players but the amount they can be offered will be potentially limited unless the player is 23 years old or younger, in which case, there will be no limit.
Lastly, and a solid indication of the growth of the league, the new CBA includes incremental increases to player compensation starting from this year through to 2024. The MLS will increase the spending on salary budget, GAM and performance bonuses for players from $8,490,000 in 2019 to $11,643,000 in 2024.
This has definitely been a great week if you are a fan of Major League Soccer. With the new CBA, that means the league and teams can focus on the product on the field instead of drawn-out negotiations all season long.
The season is right around the corner with the Loons first preseason game Sunday, February 16th and the season opener, Sunday, March 1st.