Major League Soccer today announced its 2015 Roster Rules and Regulations. As part of this announcement, the league issued new, streamlined rules for how MLS clubs acquire select players pursuant to the Allocation and Discovery processes. The league also provided information about the other mechanisms for signing players, such as the SuperDraft and Homegrown Player Rule.
As described in detail below, MLS clubs can acquire specific players through either (i) the revised Allocation Process or (ii) the revised Discovery Process. These revised player assignment mechanisms go into effect today, Friday, May 1, 2015:
· Allocation Process – MLS will maintain a single, fixed and public list of players, known as the Allocation Ranking List, that are subject to the Allocation Process. MLS clubs will have the right to acquire players on the Allocation Ranking List based on the Allocation Ranking Order. The Allocation Ranking Order is determined by the reverse order of finish in the previous season, taking playoff performance into account. Once a club acquires a player via the Allocation Ranking Order, that club drops to the bottom of the order. A club’s Allocation Ranking Order position is tradable.
· Discovery Process – Subject to certain exemptions specified further below, a player not listed on the Allocation Ranking List may be signed through the Discovery Process. A Discovery signing occurs when a team scouts and recruits a particular player not playing in MLS. Clubs identify players not yet under MLS contract and submit a claim to the league office to add the players to a club’s Discovery List.
As part of these revisions, the Lottery Player Assignment Process will no longer be used. In previous years, some players entering the league went through a “weighted lottery” to sign with an MLS team.
Designated Players may be signed through the Allocation Process, the Discovery Process or from a club’s existing roster.
ALLOCATION RANKING PROCESS
The Allocation Ranking List is comprised of players in the following categories:
· Select U.S. Men’s National Team players.
· Select elite U.S. Youth National Team players.
· Players transferred outside of MLS garnering a transfer fee of at least $500,000 (USD).
The players who will be included on the Allocation Ranking List will be determined by Major League Soccer’s player personnel department and club technical staffs.
The Allocation Ranking List will be made public at MLSsoccer.com and updated once each year, during the time window between the end of the MLS regular season and MLS Cup. The Allocation Ranking List will only be updated during the season if an elite U.S. youth national team player turns 18 or graduates from the U.S. Soccer Residency Program in Bradenton, FL and is deemed eligible for the list. In addition, the Allocation Ranking List will be updated when a player is transferred out of MLS for more than $500,000 (USD).
As part of the revised Discovery Process, in 2015 clubs may place seven players on their Discovery Lists, a reduction from 12 players in 2014. This reduction is intended to encourage clubs to add to their lists only players they intend to sign. In order for MLS clubs to maintain the confidentiality from other MLS clubs of the players they are seeking to recruit, the league office will not publicize the names of players on a club’s Discovery list, nor specify if a claim has been filed to add a particular player to a club’s Discovery List. Clubs may add or remove players to their Discovery List throughout the year, and each club’s Discovery List does not reset at the end of the MLS season.
In addition to players on the Allocation List, the following categories are exempt from the Discovery Process:
· SuperDraft Eligible Players -- U.S. youth national team players, college players and players with college eligibility (which includes players under the age of 18).
· Homegrown Players -- Players developed in a club’s youth academy.
· College Protected Players -- Players who were selected in the MLS SuperDraft and did not sign an MLS contract.
· Other Unsigned Players -- Players who were (i) on a club’s roster who that club attempted, but were unable, to re-sign at the expiration of their contract or (ii) on a club’s Discovery List and who that club attempted, but were unable, to sign.
In both cases, the club who attempted to sign the player maintains a “right of first refusal” to acquire the player in the event he is subsequently signed to an MLS contract. Recent examples include the New England Revolution’s Juan Agudelo and Sporting Kansas City’s Roger Espinoza, two players who returned to MLS after playing abroad.
· Waived Players -- Players who have been previously waived by an MLS club.
If one or more clubs try to add the same player to their Discovery Lists, the club that filed the claim first will have the priority right to sign the player. If one or more clubs submit a discovery request on the same day, then the club with the lowest points-per-game in the current MLS regular season (all clubs must have played a minimum of three regular season games) will have the priority right to sign the player.
If a club wants to sign a player on the Discovery List of another team, it may offer the team $50,000 in Allocation Money in exchange for the right to sign the player. The team with the player on its Discovery List will then either (i) have to accept the Allocation Money and give up the opportunity to sign the player or (ii) make the player a genuine, objectively reasonable offer.