Late on Wednesday a crisis was averted in Major League Soccer as the league and the MLS Players Union (MLSPU) agreed to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) through the 2019 season.
[ RELATED: MLS strike averted ]
Soccer fans in North America, your domestic top-flight is ready to kick off on Friday for the 2015 season.
[ RELATED: Cameron’s thoughts on CBA ]
Relief was the buzzword as meetings in Washington D.C. went down to the wire, but with plenty of the details still to be revealed publicly, many are wondering which side, if any, won with the new CBA done and dusted.
[ RELATED: Players have resolve in CBA battle ]
Here’s a look at some of the key factors in the deal which have leaked out so far…
- Length: The new CBA is a five-year deal, which is what the players wanted after the league dug their heels in for a seven-year deal.
- Minimum salary: The new minimum salary in the league is up from $36,500 to $60,000, which is one of the main areas MLSPU wanted to improve. They got that done.
- Free agency: Ah, this was the main sticking point as the players had to settle for a form of restricted free agancy many would see as being a league win. Only players aged over 28 and have given MLS eight-years service would be able to select which club they move to next. It’s a start, but certainly not what players were hoping for.
- Salary cap: There is a 15 percent increase in the salary cap, which although seems modest, it wasn’t one of the sticking points as the Designated Player rule continues to have added importance around the league.
So, who are the winners? Many would argue that the league got a better deal here, but it is worth noting that a strike from the players was very likely as little as 12 hours before the deal was signed.
[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS previews for 2015 ]
Sources confirmed to PST on Tuesday that both sides were still far apart on several key issues and that “it was not looking great” for the 2015 MLS season. However, with the new season just hours away, MLS came back with an improved offer on free agency — previously players over the age 32 and having 10 years of experience at one club (so, basically just Brad Davis) was the only caveat being offered by the league when it came to free agency — and a vote by MLSPU was hardly unanimous but enough players voted in favor and here we are. Let’s play ball.
The true is, both sides eventually gave something up and even though they will feel slightly aggrieved to not get exactly what they wanted from the CBA deal (especially the players), we have MLS back on the schedule for one of the most eagerly anticipated campaign in its 20-year history. MLS seems to have won, right now. But long-term, we will still see plenty of talents (see: Sporting KC’s Erik Palmer-Brown rumored switch to Juventus) head overseas at a young age where contract restrictions aren’t as severe as they are in MLS. More young American and Canadian soccer players will continue to move away from their domestic league despite the increase in the minimum salary.
Overall, soccer in North America was the big winner in this CBA battle, as a work stoppage or a lockout would have harmed the league’s reputation domestically and globally. That crisis has been averted, for now, but in five years time the next CBA will be even more crucial to their future of this young league as MLS budging on free agency this time leads us to believe that more is to follow ahead of the 2020 season. Plus, new franchises in New York, LA, Atlanta and possibly Miami could see the landscape of the next CBA shift dramatically.
Have your say in the comments section below, as I’m sure plenty of you are relieved to see that MLS and the MLSPU have resolved their difference just in the nick of time.