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MLS and MLSPA Sign New Five-Year CBA

It took an extra week, but the MLS and MLSPA finally agreed to a new CBA (and saved the season!). We break down the key components of it.

Major League Soccer

Major League Soccer and the Players Association signed a new five-year collective bargaining agreement today. For all the details, go here. However, we are going to delve into what some of the key components mean for fans (e.g., 401k contributions and other benefits increased for players…but you don’t care about that too much).

Salary Budget

Will increase from $8,490,000 (2019) to $11,643,000 (2024).

Some were wondering whether the funny money of MLS – General Allocation Money (GAM) and Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) – would see it’s end in this CBA. The final answer is…sort of. GAM and TAM have been an integral part of MLS, and the bane of ALL fans. It was unlikely to disappear overnight. Instead, we will see clubs receive $1.2 million in GAM each season instead of the $1.2 million in TAM they received under the previous CBA. Over the next five years we will see the amount of GAM continue to rise with the amount of TAM continuing to decrease (see table). In other words, it looks like they will be, hopefully, trying to phase out TAM; it really is pointless to have two different types of funny money.

New MLS Spending

Year Salary General Discr. Avail. Spend
Year Salary General Discr. Avail. Spend
Budget Allocation Money TAM on Roster*
2020 $4,900,000 $1,525,000 $2,800,000 $9,225,000
2021 $5,210,000 $1,900,000 $2,720,000 $9,830,000
2022 $5,470,000 $2,585,000 $2,400,000 $10,455,000
2023 $5,950,000 $2,830,000 $2,225,000 $11,005,000
2024 $6,425,000 $3,093,000 $2,125,000 $11,643,000

Travel

Vancouver Whitecaps have long had the worst travel in MLS, although this season it is actually pretty good. As a result, it is very likely that Vancouver was a strong advocate for increased charter flights. Starting in 2020, clubs will be required to use charter flights on eight ‘legs’ of travel during the regular season. By 2024 it will double to sixteen. In addition, all playoff and international CONCACAF Champions League matches will require charter flights. This is a BIG deal and something that should be seen as a big win for players as well as for Vancouver.

Shared Revenue

As has been seen in all (?) of the other major sports in North America, players will begin to share in media revenue generated by the league, beginning in 2023. Player spending will increase by 25% of the increased media revenue, plus $100 million.

Developing Young Players

Beginning next season, MLS will allow clubs to sign up to three players who are 22 years or younger on reduced salary cap charges. Think of this like the Young DP rule. What that reduced amount will be is unclear right now AND there is the caveat that it will be ‘at MLS discretion’. That is always a dangerous move. Still, it should mean continued movement towards having younger players in the league, and a continued move AWAY from being a ‘retirement’ league.

Designated Players

There was a belief that clubs were waiting to make all of their signings for 2020 on the belief that there may be an additional DP slot added to the roster. NOPE! Clubs will still have three DPs. No real changes there. What the additional GAM money means though is that we are likely to see an increase in the number of mid-range players rather than high-profile players, which is fine by me. I think that will create a better product as teams will be more well-balanced and be able to sustain a loss of a big star better.

Those are some of the key takeaways I saw from the new CBA. Did any of these catch your eye? Anything I left out that you feel is important?