Major League Soccer and the Players Union have settled their differences on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) covering five seasons, meaning the the season will begin as planned this Friday when the Chicago Fire take on the defending MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy.
The highlights of the new deal are:
- Increased Salary Cap: The salary cap was set at $3.1 million in 2014, and reports suggest a 15% increase to around $3.5 million in 2015 that will rise to $4.2 million by 2019.
- Increased Minimum Wage from 36,500 to $60,000. According to varies reports, almost two out of every five players will be receiving a raise of some sort to bring them up to this level.
- Limited Free Agency: Players whose contracts expire will become free agents, allowed to negotiate with any team in the league, provided they are 28 or older and have played in the MLS for at least eight seasons.
If I am a player, I cannot be happy with this new CBA. Less than a year ago, MLS signed a new television deal which increased annual television revenue from $18 million to $90 million, an increase of 500%. Yet the salary cap only increased by 15% and most of that will eaten up by bringing the majority of players up to a livable wage.
Second, the free agency is a joke. It will only ever apply to a small minority of players. If MLS is to become one of the tip leagues in the world, as MLS commissioner Don Garber claims, the league has to stop operating a a single-entity cartel structure.
What do you think of the new CBA? Or are you just happy that the league will start tomorrow?