Major League Soccer and the Major League Soccer Players Association have reached an agreement in principle on a new collective bargaining agreement.
The new five-year deal will begin with the 2020 season, and run through the 2024 season. The deal is still subject to the approval of the MLS Board of Governors and the MLSPA membership.
Signed 24 days prior to the start of the season – well ahead of the agreements of the previous CBAs – the deal makes substantial progress in a variety of issues that were raised by the league’s player base.
At the most basic, MLS is increasing its investment in the salary budget, raising the senior minimum salaries from $81,375 to $109,200 in 2024. The league will also increase the salary budget, general allocation money, and player performance bonuses.
MLS players will also have the opportunity to share in the league’s media revenue for the first time. The new CBA calls for the league to increase player spending by an amount equal to 25% of the increased media revenue the league will see in its new media rights deals starting in 2023, plus $100 million. All of MLS’s current national and international media rights partnerships expire at the end of 2022, including all of local media rights deals.
Charter flights, which was a significant issue for the MLS player base, will also increase. Clubs will be required to use charter flights for at least eight games during the 2020 season, growing that number to 16 for the 2024 season. Previously, clubs could travel charter up to four legs per season, but were not required. Charter travel will also be used for all MLS playoff matches, and Concacaf Champions League matches involving international travel.
The league is also continuing to allow clubs to sign three designated players in the CBA, and will be expanding eligibility for free agency to include players who are 24 years or older and have five years of service in MLS. That both lowers the age and term from the previous CBA.
“Players have secured an agreement that will substantially change what it means to be an MLS player,” Bob Foose, executive director of the MLSPA, said in a statement. “Over the past two years, we have engaged in a substantive, comprehensive negotiation process with the league. We believe that the sweeping changes and increased investment in this agreement will not only be integral to the league’s continued growth, but will also move MLS closer to the systems in place in overseas leagues with which we aspire to compete.”
This story will be updated.