Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Thoughts on the new MLS CBA

Lets start this off by saying, just about any agreement was going to be better than a player strike. The league has made nowhere near the impact on the hearts and minds of the average American soccer fan, much less, the average American sports fan to be able to survive a strike. Of course, I wanted to see the MLS finally take the steps to ensuring the longevity of the league by finally valuing their players. Raising the salary cap, and addressing the abysmally low ($34,000) league minimum salary were obvious priorities.

One can find all of the details of the CBA here. And below I've outlined my opinion on several of the key points:

1. Salary cap increases to $2.55M in 2010 (2.315 in 2009), and will increase by 5% each year through 2014.
Lets face it, the MLS isn't a major league yet, and won't be able to offer an impressive salary cap until it can draw the advertising and media monies other sports have. That being said, I think the MLS could have gone higher, perhaps up to $2.75M.

2. Increased player benefits including: raising league minimum salary to $40,000, 401K contributions, health care, appearance fees, better travel coverage, bonuses for winning, bonuses for participating in exhibitions.
A $6,000 increase in the league's minimum salary isn't overtly generous, but when all the benefits are taken into account I feel that the increase was mostly sufficient. And the standout here for me is player incentives for winning. Hopefully this will incentivize teams to put their best product onto the field day in-day out. And the MLS will now cover player's health insurance?? Smells like a SOCIALISM..

3. Possible establishment of a reserve division.
This could be great for talent cultivation, but remember its in the "committee" stage. My opinion: don't hold your breath.

4. Guaranteed contracts for players that are at least 24 years old and have 3 years of MLS service.
I think the goal here is to keep players in the MLS and prevent talent from migrating to other leagues. There could be more in the CBA to keep our players here, but this is a step in the right direction.

All in all, I think this is a win for the players. Lets be honest, the majority of the owners in the MLS aren't turning a profit. I commend the owners for making the concessions (yes, they are modest) to keep the players from striking, a blow that the league may not have survived.

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