Major League Soccer and the MLS Players Union avoided a potentially ugly black eye by agreeing to a new collective bargaining agreement in the final hours before the league’s 20th season was supposed to start.
Instead of a work stoppage, the fans and media can concentrate on what was supposed to be a great opening weekend and the introduction of both Orlando City and NYCFC to the league. However, before we get the matches underway, there are the details to the new collective bargaining agreement to be sorted out as well.
One of the biggest areas of contention was the player’s want of full free agency and the owner’s want for no free agency. Neither side got what they wanted, meaning a compromise appears to have won out for the time being.
Paul Tenorio of the Orlando Sentinel reported the details of the announced MLS collective bargaining agreement as follows:
According to a source with direct knowledge of the deal, the new collective bargaining agreement is a five-year deal that creates free agency for players 28 years of age or older, with at least eight years experience. According to that source, a players’ raise through free agency is capped depending on salary.
According to Tenorio’s reporting, the agreement also indicates the cap to players’ raises as 125 percent for those earning under $100,000. Those earning between $100,000 and $200,000 will be capped at 120 percent of their salaries and those earning $200,000-plus would be capped at 115 percent of their salaries.
Perhaps the biggest push is the new minimum salary, which will be $60,000. That’s nearly double the 2014 minimum of $36,500 and very important as those near the bottom of the salary pool are often the youngest and usually the ones struggling to make it financially.
More details are to come as the two sides begin to speak about the agreement in principal. All that is left is for the MLSPU to ratify the agreement as a whole and that vote is expected to happen very soon
The tense feeling can now turn to complete anticipation at the Citrus Bowl, where a sold out crowd of 62,000 will be in attendance for Orlando City’s first game and their home opener against fellow newcomers NYCFC.
It also means Friday’s season kickoff between the Chicago Fire and reigning MLS champions LA Galaxy can go off as well.