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MLS, MLSPA tentatively agree to 5-year collective bargaining agreement

Free agency, increased player compensation, and charter flight allowances are among the key points.

MLS: D.C. United at FC Dallas Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Soccer and the MLS Players Association on Thursday announced that it had tentatively agreed to a 5-year collective bargaining agreement, set to run from the beginning of the following season to January 2025. The CBA now heads to a vote, where it will likely be approved by both the Board of Govenors and the players.

MLS and the MLSPA unveiled the details of the new agreement on their websites, with some of the key points including:

  • Clubs will now have a salary budget of $8.49 million starting this season, increasing to $11.643 million in 2024.
  • A new “under-22” rule lets clubs sign up to 3 players 22 or younger at a smaller hit to its salary budget, with further details to come
  • The 3 Designated Player rule remains, but to encourage equality among all clubs, MLS can cap how much a club’s 3rd DP can make (up to the TAM limit) unless he is 23 or younger
  • The $1.2 million in TAM granted to each club each year will now be converted to GAM, meaning that the funds can be spread more freely among all players on the roster.
  • A new free agency structure. Players at least 24 years old and with at least 5 years of service in the league will qualify for free agency, down from the previous 28/8 rule. Under the agreement, there is no limit on free agents a club can sign.
  • The senior minimum salary and reserve minimum salary will grow to $109,000 and $85,000 by 2024, respectively, with up to $35,000 in performance bonuses available for those on senior minimum salaries and up to $53,000 available for those on reserve minimum salaries.
  • New performance-based bonus structures including starts, team wins, playoffs, tournament bonuses and more - totaling $55,000,000
  • For the first time, revenue sharing for players from the upcoming league media rights deal: “equal to 25 percent of the increased media revenue above the amount generated by the league in 2022 plus $100 million”, according to the league
  • Veteran players will receive a “benefits extension”, while all players will be eligible to receive stipends for moving and other personal benefits
  • For the first time, MLS will mandate charter flights for all teams, starting with 8 in 2020, growing to 10 in 2021, 12 in 2022, 14 in 2023 and 16 in 2024. Travel per diem is set to be increased, while an increase in the player’s salary that will go to his 401k puts the percentage at 4.25%.

The new CBA also includes guaranteed contracts in the 2nd year of a player’s deal and an increase in unrestricted money over the life of the new CBA, set to grow to 82% in 2024.

We’ll dig into this more as further details come out, but this is a key day for the league.