MLS and the MLS Players Association (MLSPA) have agreed in principal to a new five-season collective bargaining agreement, which will run through the 2024 campaign.
The agreement is subject to the approval of the MLS Board of Governors and the membership of the MLSPA.
Completed more than three weeks prior to the league’s 25th season, the new five-year CBA includes:
- Increased investment in player spending;
- Greater flexibility for clubs to use those 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 by the end of the term;
- Expanded free agency.
“As we prepare to celebrate our 25th season, we are very pleased to finalize a new five-year Collective Bargaining Agreement with our players,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “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. 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.”
SUMMARY OF KEY POINTS
The following are key points agreed upon by MLS and the MLSPA in the new five-year CBA:
TERM: February 1, 2020 – January 31, 2025
INCREASED INVESTMENT IN PLAYER SPENDING: MLS will increase investment in the salary budget, General Allocation Money and 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 also will increase with the new CBA.
GREATER SALARY BUDGET FLEXIBILITY ACROSS ROSTERS: During the last three MLS seasons, clubs were provided an additional $1.2 million per season in Targeted Allocation Money (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, with the increase in the amount of guaranteed spending across the entire roster during the next five seasons, the amount of Discretionary Targeted Allocation Money per season will decrease correspondingly.
PLAYERS TO SHARE IN MEDIA REVENUE FOR THE FIRST TIME: For the first time, player spend per club will include a share of the increased revenue generated by MLS’ new media agreements in 2023 and 2024. Beginning in 2023 and 2024, MLS will increase player spending by an amount equal to 25% of the increased media revenue above the amount generated by the league in 2022 plus $100 million. The league’s current national and international media rights partnerships expire at the end of 2022.
CHARTER FLIGHTS INCREASE SUBSTANTIALLY: Clubs will be required to use charter flights for eight legs of travel during the 2020 regular season, growing to 16 legs for the 2024 season. In the previous CBA, clubs had the discretion but not the requirement to charter up to four legs per 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.
EXPANDED ELIGIBILITY FOR FREE AGENCY: The eligibility criteria for free agency has been expanded to include players who are 24 years or older and have five years of service in MLS. This lowers the age and term from the previous CBA, in which players 28 years old with eight years of service were eligible for free agency. The CBA 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.
DESIGNATED PLAYER SPOTS: Clubs will continue to have the right to sign up to three Designated Players in the new CBA.