The Major League Soccer Players Union announced today that the collective bargaining agreement between the Union and Major League Soccer, which was announced days before the opening of the 2015 season, has been ratified by its members.
The Union’s player-only Bargaining Committee recommended the ratification of the agreement to all MLS players. The full player pool recently completed voting on the agreement, with 91 percent voting in favor of ratification.
“We are pleased to announce that our members have ratified the agreement,” said Bob Foose, the Union’s Executive Director in a statement. “The negotiations were tough as always, but because of the dedication and commitment of our player representatives, we were able to conclude an agreement that provides five more years of substantial improvements in player compensation and benefits as well as the introduction of free agency in MLS for the first time.”
The following are some of the key points of the agreement, which will run through the 2019 season:
- FREE AGENCY: For the first time in MLS history, out-of-contract players and players whose options are declined can choose where to play within MLS. Players who are 28 years old with at least eight years of MLS service and are below the max salary will be able to freely choose their team within the following salary limits:
- Players earning less than $100,000 can negotiate a raise of up to 25 percent
- Players earning between $100,000 and $200,000 can negotiate a raise of up to 20 percent; and
- Players earning $200,000 and above can negotiate a raise of up to 15 percent.
- The above percentage increases may be raised for players who significantly outperform their contracts.
- RE-ENTRY DRAFT: The Re-Entry Draft will continue in effect for those players who: (i) are 23 years old with at least three years of MLS service and whose options have been declined; and (ii) are at least 25 years old with at least four years of MLS service and who have played out their contracts, but have not received a bona fide offer from their existing team.
- SALARY BUDGET: The salary budget will increase from $3.1 million per club in 2014 to $3.49 million in 2015 (12.5 percent) and will increase by roughly 5 percent per year thereafter, as follows: 2016 – $3.66 million; 2017 – $3.845 million; 2018 – $4.035 million; 2019 – $4.24 million. In addition, new allocation money, including the Targeted Allocation Money announced by the league last week, will be issued each year of the agreement to each MLS team in the following amounts: 2015: $250,000; 2016: $250,000; 2017: $300,000; 2018: $300,000; 2019: $350,000. As a result, the average salary of senior roster players who are not Designated Players will increase by roughly $60,000 over the course of the agreement, and should be approaching $200,000 by 2019.
- SENIOR MINIMUM SALARY: The minimum salary for senior roster players will increase from $48,500 in 2014 to $60,000 in 2015, $62,500 in 2016, $65,000 in 2017, $67,500 in 2018 and $70,250 in 2019.
- RESERVE MINIMUM SALARY: The minimum salary for additional players beyond the first 24 roster slots per club will increase from $36,500 in 2014 to the following: 2015 – $50,000; 2016 – $51,500; 2017 – $53,000; 2018 – $54,500; 2019 – $56,250. In addition, such players, who must be 24 years old or younger, will receive an additional bonus of $500 for each MLS game in which they appear, and another $750 for each MLS game that they start.
Other points of emphasis include: an increase in the number of guaranteed contracts, limitations to the number of option years in player contracts, packages of bonuses for wins in MLS games and international tournaments, appearance fees for exhibition games, and an improved package of benefits for players.