Following Saturday’s announcement of a new collective bargaining agreement between Major League Soccer (MLS) and the MLS Players Union (Players Union), the League today announced key elements of the five-year agreement.
Under the new collective bargaining agreement, player salaries are guaranteed to increase each year league-wide, and the individual minimum player salaries also will continue to grow. The new agreement also includes improvements to players’ quality of life such as meals, hotel accommodations, reimbursement for relocation costs and player appearances.
The agreement is subject to the approval of the MLS Board of Governors and the membership of the Players Union.
The following are the key points agreed to by MLS and the Players Union in their new five-year collective bargaining agreement:
* TERM: 2010 – 2014.
* GUARANTEED CONTRACTS: The CBA provides for guaranteed contracts for all players who are at least 24 years old with three years of MLS service. The majority of the players in the League will have guaranteed contracts each season.
· SALARY BUDGET: An increase of the salary budget from $2.315 million per club in 2009 to $2.55 million in 2010 (10.15%) and an increase of 5% per year thereafter.
· An increase of the minimum salary for senior roster players from $34,000 in 2009 to $40,000 in 2010 (17.64%) and an increase of 5% per year thereafter.
* PLAYER MOVEMENT: While there will be no bidding by MLS clubs against each other for out-of-contract players, the League will establish a “re-entry draft” for players who are out of contract. Although the specific parameters of that draft are being finalized, it will address players in each of the following categories:
o Option Not Exercised
A player who is at least 23 years old with three years of MLS service and whose option is not exercised will be placed in a re-entry draft and made available to all clubs at his option salary.
o Contract Terminated
A player who is at least 22 years old with one year of MLS service and who is asked to take a pay cut after contract termination will be placed in a re-entry draft and made available to all clubs at his current salary.
o Contract Expires
A player who is at least 30 years old with eight years of MLS service and whose contract has expired will be placed in a re-entry draft unless his team makes him a qualified offer that must be at least 105% of his last salary. If placed in the re-entry draft, the player will be made available to all clubs at a salary equal to 105% of his last salary.
A player who is at least 25 years of age with at least four years of MLS service whose contract has expired will be placed in a re-entry draft unless his team offers him a base salary of at least as much as the base salary paid to him in the last year of his contract. If placed in the re-entry draft, the player will be made available to all clubs at a salary equal to the salary in the final year of his contract.
* OPTIONS IN PLAYER CONTRACTS: A limit on the number of options in player contracts to two for players who are at least 25 years old with four years of MLS service. Contracts for all other players may have up to three options.
o For players whose annual compensation is less than $125,000, the minimum increase in base salary will be 10% for players who play in at least 66% of his club’s games and 12.5% for players who play in at least 75% of his club’s games.
· PLAYER BENEFITS: The CBA includes a package of benefits that include increases in 401K contributions by the League, appearance fees, per diem when travelling and relocation expense reimbursement. Among the additional player benefits in the CBA are full health care benefits for every player and his family at no cost, 401(k) contributions and expanded insurance benefits.
· BONUSES FOR WINS AND EXHIBITIONS: The CBA includes a package of bonuses for wins in MLS games and international tournaments as well as appearance fees for international exhibitions.
* GROUP LICENSE: The League and Players Union reached agreement on an extension of the Group License that will run through 2015 (a year longer than the CBA).
* RESERVE DIVISION: MLS and the Players Union will establish a joint committee to study the re-launch of a Reserve Division. In the event the rosters are expanded, the salary for those players will be a minimum of $31,250 with additional annual increases.
Major League Soccer’s 15th season kicks off March 25 when the expansion Philadelphia Union travel to Seattle to take on Sounders FC in a nationally televised match on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes (9:30 p.m. ET). The other 14 MLS clubs are in action on March 26 and 27.