MLS gets a new CBA

By Sean McCaffery, February 8, 2020

The top tier of the sport has a new deal for the players. They get some great upgrades, so just maybe the teams are beginning to turn the corner on profitability?

Jeff Larentowicz, EXEC BD member MLSPA had this to say "This deal is the cullmination of our efforts to engage players from every team to define our goals and push for real progress. Through this work and our solidarity, we have been able to reach a deal that will provide players with greater rights and increased compensation, and will ensure that the league's resources continue to be used to create a league of choice for players both on and offf the field.

Long time MLS COmmish. Don Garber explained, "As we prepare to celebrate our 25th season, we are very pleaased to finalize a new 5-year Colective Bargining Agreement with out players. "

By the #'s:

- $1.9 billion invested

- 24 & 5 free agency elibibilty, age of 24  and 5 years of service, more than 2x eligible , no player exclusions based on pay, no more pay restrictions up to top pay budget charge.

- +55% in senior min. pay

- +55% in performance bonuses

- more charter flights

- +37% pay over the term of Non-Designated Player Roster money

- TV $ split set for future media rights deals

- Sr. player min. pay will go to $109K

- Reserve min. pay to go to $85K

- More improvements: play bonus, roster bonus, start bonus, tourney bonus, playoff bonus, reg. season bonus

Budget Rules:

-more roster spending needs a consult with PA, at least 40% into unrestricted $$

-removal of contractual items restricting free agency

-2nd year of all contracts guarenteed

-continuted investment of youth develppment and youth player spots

-unrestricted money grows from 54% to 82%

Player Health & Conditions:

-veteran players more benefits

-401k contributions increased to 4.25%

-more money for moving stipends and benefits

-increased travel per diem

-doubling of mandatory charter flights

Player investing will rise, in 3 fashions, Salary Budget, GAM & Bonuses. Over the 5 years of the deal it will grow from $8,490,000 to $11,643,000.

More flexibility for salaries up and down the roster: The last 3 years saw $1.2 million more allocated as TAM, used to get and keep players at a particular pay rate. Now it is GAM, able to be used as teams see fit on the roster. As the guarenteed spending rises TAM will reduce at the same rate.

Media Revenue: This to me is massive, in both dollars and importance. Though the new media deals will not be in effect untl the CBA is more or less done, 2023 & '24, the player spending will then be 25% of the media money increase from 2022 PLUS $100 million. That may work out to just about $3million a team by then, but at the pay rate it is a lot and the media money is only expected to go way up.

Charter Flights:This is more comfortable for the players, fewer distractions, more privacy but also for the teams, it may be a cost savings as they will not stay over as much, but rather fly out same day. These fewer days have them pay out less to hotels, fewer per diems, not lose a day of training due to travel and they pay anyway for the seat should they fly commercial so there is a great savings for the team that will offset the possible higher cost of the actual flight. This year it will be for 8 legs of travel. Think LA -Portland and Toronto - NY, not LA-NY. In the past the teams may have done up to 4 legs if at all. Now they must use charters for all playoff games and CCL games with international travel.

Greater Free Agency: There was no Curt Flood type person here. A marked difference now of 24 years of age and 5 years in the league from 28 years and 8 years in MLS. There are also caps on the rises of pay in such contracts, Those above the max. pay including DP's may also get freee agency on specific guidelines.

U-22 Player Initiative: Up to 3 less than 22 years of age at reduced charge to club's salary budget.

Designated Players: It remains at 3 max. The league may limit the pay to the 3rd unless they are less than 23, then there is no limit.

The media money is big, the charter flights seem to be more of a perk, the change in the ages and years of service is massive, the DP rule relative to one being U-23 is great as is the 3 players U-22, those 2 should help reduce the thought of the MLS being a retirement league and bring in younger players such a Castellanos of NYCFC. The increase in reserves pay will be great to keep players in the game as that is a living wage in most cities. The 401k is good but nothing major, let's hope those are explained better than it was to me in the NYPD. The bonuses are good, they will make all games inportant not just to qualify for the playoffs. Insurance to past playes helps but as most play 3-5 years max, providing insurance for the balance of their life seems a bit much. The 2nd year being guarenteed will have more players stay in the league as you know you will in fact be getting that money and are better able to plan.