You can breathe a sigh of relieve here folks. Soccer is going to happen at the end of the month as planned. There will be no work stoppage to delay the 2020 season.
Major League Soccer and the Major League Soccer Players Association (MLSPA) have announced they’ve reached an agreement in principle on the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) which covers five full seasons from 2020 to 2024 (term runs from Feb. 1, 2020 through Jan. 31, 2025).
The agreement, which comes 24 days before the start of the new season includes:
Increased investment in player spending
This is always the big one for players and owners. MLS will increase investment in the (a) salary budget, (b) General Allocation Money and (c) performance bonuses for players, raising the spending power per club every year, from $8,490,000 in 2019 to $11,643,000 in 2024.
In addition, the minimum annual salary for senior roster players will increase each season to $109,200 in 2024 and 401(k) contribution and other benefits will also increase with the new CBA. In 2019, the minimum salary was $70k for the senior roster.
Here is a good breakdown of how this all should look:
Here's a look at the salary budget changes coming via the new MLS CBA.— Ian Thomas (@byIanThomas) February 6, 2020
Note: Clubs have the opportunity to exceed these figures with spending on up to three Designated Players and, beginning in 2021, up to three players through the under-22 player initiative. pic.twitter.com/p5IgzQ5LJ1
Greater salary budget flexibility across rosters
Players won big on this next item as well as Targeted Allocation Money is going away. During the last three MLS seasons (2017-2019), clubs were provided an additional $1.2 million per season in TAM to be used for the acquisition or retention of players within a specific salary budget range.
Under the new CBA, that $1.2 million per season has been converted to General Allocation Money and may be used across the entire roster. Additionally, as the amount of guaranteed spending across the entire roster increases over each of the next five seasons, the amount of Discretionary Targeted Allocation Money per season will decrease accordingly.
Increase in charter flights
Over the last few years, clubs were only allowed four chartered flights a season and there was no requirement to actually make sure they went through with using those flights. Clubs will now 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 addition, clubs will be required to use charter air travel for all Audi MLS Cup Playoff matches and Concacaf Champions League games involving international travel.
This is certainly good for a club like FC Dallas, who have long west coast trips this year to Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Jose and LA, as well as east coast trips to New York
Players to share in media revenue
Chalk this one up to another potential big win for the players as well. For the first time, player spend per club will include a share of the increased revenue generated by MLS’s new media agreements in 2023 and 2024. Beginning in 2023 and 2024, MLS will increase player spending by an amount equal to 25 percent of the increased media revenue above the amount generated by the league in 2022 plus $100 million. The league’s current local, national and international media rights partnerships expire at the end of 2022.
Expanded free agency
The previous free agency system was capped for players with eight years of service and those there were at least 28 years old. The new CBA has lowered the restrictions a bit to help greater movement as players need to be at least 24 years old or have five years of service within the league.
The CBA also includes caps on the increases in compensation in free agent contracts. In addition, players making above the maximum salary budget, including Designated Players, will now also be eligible for free agency based on specific guidelines.
New “Under-22” Player initiative
This will certainly be an item FC Dallas will use in the coming years. Beginning in 2021, MLS 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. More details regarding the new initiative will be provided at a later date.
Unless the rule is targeted at signing foreign talent to larger deals, you could see this as a way for FC Dallas to retain some of their younger talent on bigger contracts. You gotta think that being able to potentially reduce Jesus Ferreira or Paxton Pomykal’s salary budget charge could be awfully useful for FCD in the future as they try to sign up players further down in their system to new HGP deals.
Designated Player spots
Clubs will continue to have the right to sign up to three Designated Players in the new CBA. The league will have the right to limit the compensation for the third Designated Player to the maximum TAM Salary, unless the player is 23 years old or younger, in which case there will be no limit.