In March, before the MLS season started, the Player's Union and the League were working on reaching an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement. On March 5th, it was announced that the two sides reached an agreement in principal. This did not mean the CBA was 100% in place, just that there would not be a work stoppage while the small details were ironed out of the agreement. Today, the Player's Union announced that a deal has been signed with 91% of the union voting in favor of the agreement.
What does this mean right now? Nothing immediate as some of the changes have already been implemented, but the signed CBA will introduce some changes to MLS that will have an impact this upcoming offseason.
For the first time ever, free agency will happen in MLS. However, it is not open free agency like other major US sports. In order to become a free agent, an out of contract player must be at least 28 years old, and have played 8 years in MLS (and below the max salary charge). This will apply to a very small number of players, which probably includes New York Red Bulls' midfielder Dax McCarty (28 years old, 11 years in MLS). We need to see the salary numbers to know who exactly this will help, but it's a step towards true free agency.
The cap limit in 2015 for a team is $3.49 million. The CBA has that limit to increase 5% per year through the 2019 season, where the cap will be $4.24 million. In addition, each team will get set amounts of allocation money each year (presumably in addition to current ways of obtaining it), totaling $1.45 million per team through 2019.
I'll let the Union explain this one:
All players who are at least 24 years old who have one year of MLS service, and are on an MLS team's opening roster the following season will have guaranteed contracts for the duration of their MLS careers. As a result, approximately 81% of MLS players are now playing with guaranteed contracts.
Contract Option Years
The Union also won in terms of limiting option years in MLS contracts. No more than 3 option years is allowed with a limit of 2 for players 24 years or older with 2 years in MLS. This goes along with free agency and the push for more flexible player movement.
Initial thoughts on some of the gains in the new CBA? Let us know in the comments.