The Brek Shea transfer saga has most of us feeling dizzy after weeks of the silly season media craze featuring conjecture, negotiations, innuendo, physicals, misleading quotes, and judgement. Let's take a moment to breakdown just the factual implications of this sale for FC Dallas.
Salary Cap and Allocation Money
It has never been in doubt that Brek's sale price will be well over $1 million, which means that FC Dallas will receive the maximum allocation money MLS gives to clubs in player sales, $650,000.
For those that don't understand allocation money, just think of it as a divisible salary cap coupon. FCD could pay 3 players $200k apiece, none would count against the salary cap, and the club would still have a $50k allocation left. That's a simplification, but you can look to the MLS Roster Rules for technical descriptions.
Alongside Brek's now-vacant $354,000 salary (per the MLS Player's Association salary release), the $650k allocation frees up just over $1 million in cap space.
This allocation money won't necessarily be spent immediately, though. Part of such an allocation can be a powerful trade asset in MLS, and allocations can be spent at any time within 18 months of their creation. Many possibilities for 2013 and 2014.
Cash for the Club
Here's where the actual sale price makes a difference to FC Dallas. Because Shea has played in Frisco for more than 3 years, MLS will give FC Dallas two thirds of the transfer fee minus the $650k allocation mentioned above.
These funds have to be re-invested in the club, but that could take the form facility upgrades, expansion of academy infrastructure, or other enhancements just as easily as DP salaries or transfer fees. For example, Toronto FC used funds from the sale of Maurice Edu to switch BMO Field's surface from turf to grass. There's also no stated timeframe during which this money has to be spent.
The transfer price which drives this factor is at the center of most of the conjecture around the potential sale of Shea. Alleged transfer fees have been leaked in a couple different currencies and when converted to dollars have ranged from $2mm to $6mm.
Also worth noting that after a real fee is agreed to, the player, his agent, and other parties seem to get some % of the money before MLS and FCD divvy up the rest. I couldn't find a comprehensive listing of what that looks like in practice, though.
While the real fee is important for the long-term benefits of this deal to FC Dallas and MLS, the short-term impact on the club could be small. Because remember that even the cash that reaches FCD won't necessarily go toward the roster.
One More Roster Spot
FC Dallas will be able to sign one senior player to take Brek's roster spot. Yes, that pretty much goes without saying, but it pretty much brings us to the end of MLS transfer facts.
Per Drew's work on the depth chart, this would leave FC Dallas with the ability to sign 4 senior players (5 if Ugo Ihemelu can't return), and they still have 3 international slots available for those players.
Keep these facts in mind for similar issues that will surely pop up in the future around MLS. Unless there's a big shift in MLS rules, these will be the facts for future sales, too. The only shifts would be if the club's share of a fee is less than $650k (in which case it is all allocation), if the player had been with the club less than 3 years (higher % to MLS), or if they were a homegrown player for 3+ years (75/25 club/MLS).
Conjecture is a big part of the fun during the transfer window, but sometimes it's good to step back and at least make sure that some of the ideas that get thrown around are at least consistent with the few things we actually know. Once we are at least grounded in the realities for the club, our ideas for the direction from there can at least be reasonable.