NEW YORK, N.Y. (FNN SPORTS) – Prior to entering the 25th MLS season, Major League Soccer (MLS) and the MLS Players Association (MLSPA) have reached a five-year bargaining agreement. If you have been watching soccer in the USA and Canada over the past decade, you would have noticed the tremendous growth within the industry. Soccer is finally becoming a must-see sport in North America. Of course, initially the audience was not expected to be where it is today, which played a role in player salaries and benefits. That said, this five-year bargaining agreement is a step in the right direction for further growth of soccer (futbol) in North America.
The new agreement hit five major points:
- Increased investment in player spending.
- Greater flexibility for clubs to use new resources across the entire roster.
- Player spending to include a share of MLS’ new media rights deals in 2023 and 2024.
- A substantial increase in charter flights.
- Expanded free agency.
The MLS has made some leeway on getting their top 24 rostered players better minimum and maximum salaries. The minimum salary for MLS players started from about $32,500-42,000 and capped at about $387,000. Come 2024, players’ maximum salaries will cap at roughly $803,125 with better 401K and benefits. It’s a step in the right direction, but still nothing compared to the European leagues, whose contacts are in the millions. It’s going to take continued audience growth and participation to get North American soccer players on a million-dollar scale.
Other key points of this new CBA agreement are salary budget flexibility, meaning $1.2 million per season has been converted to general allocation money (reduce the amount that a non-Designated Player costs against the salary cap down to the league minimum salary ($67,500 in 2018). Reduce the amount that a Designated Player costs against the salary cap down to $150,000. Sign players new to MLS) and can be used across the entire roster. Players will share in media revenue for the first time beginning in 2023 and 2024. Spending will be increased to 25% of the increased media revenue generated by the league in addition to $100 Million. Charter flights increase substantially. Clubs will use charter flights for 8 legs of travel starting in the 2020 season and working up to 16 legs come 2024.
Lastly, expanded free agency: Free agency will now open up to players 24 years and older and have been in the MLS for at least 5 years. The MLS has 26 active clubs with four new teams to become active within the next two years. If the Major Soccer League continues expanding at this rate, 2025 should have even more promising re-evaluations for club and player benefits.
“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,” said Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber. “We had constructive, positive discussions with the leadership of the MLSPA and the players’ bargaining committee during the negotiations over the last few months and I would like to thank them for their collaboration in concluding an agreement that will serve as the foundation for a new era of partnership with our players.”
Kasey Hudson is the Associate Editor of Sports for Florida National News. | email@example.com