Major League Soccer Officially Returning after MLSPA Vote

PHOTO: JEFF WHEELER • [email protected] - Minnesota United fans sang “Wonderwall” after their team’s 3-1 victory against Real Salt Lake on Sept. 15 at Allianz Field in St. Paul.

Major League Soccer is on the horizon and I’d bet you money, Eric is pumped for its return! On Wednesday morning, we saw the MLS Players Association vote in favor of the latest return-to-play plan, negotiated with the league. It was announced Wednesday morning by the MLSPA that the vote passed, and the new collective bargaining agreement was ratified.

The league will begin its restart with a previously mentioned tournament in the Orlando area. This comes after the league suspended play on March 12th due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


The New CBA:

Under the new, one-year, CBA (ratified Wednesday morning), players will be taking a pay cut for the remainder of the 2020 season (huh, I wonder if MLB could get their act together and do something similar).

The league and MLSPA agreed to a new CBA back in February and this new agreement doesn’t mean that goes by the wayside. Instead, the terms of the original CBA are to be pushed back one year, to 2021. This includes shifting any year-over-year increases to the following year, while also extending the CBA from 2024 to 2025.

Revenue sharing had been a contentious topic between the two parties, but the players agreed to take a reduced share of future television revenue (See table below.)

AgreementsOriginal CBA (February)New One Year CBA (Today)
TV Revenue Share25% net increase exceeding $100 million to be put towards salary starting in 2023.12.5% in 2023 then back to 25% in 2024 and 2025.
Pay CutsNo pay cuts.7.5% pay cut for 2020.
Salary IncreasesYear over year increase.Delayed one year to 2021 and capping team and player bounses.
BonusesIncrease each year from $8,490,000 in 2019 to $11,643,000 in 2024.Cut to $5 million general pool for 2020 with $1 million going towards tournament winner.
Force majeure clauseOriginally implemented by the league to mitigate attendance decreases in markets (looking at you, Chicago).Still implemented but language apparently changed.

Alongside these revelations, is the allowing of teams to stay in their home market for full-team training, until just before the start of the Orlando tournament in July. 

Orlando Tournament Refresh:

The tournament is set to take place in July at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando. All 24 clubs will be in attendance with three group-stage games per team, which will count towards a (hopefully) regular season, and a knockout round.

While it is unclear about the format of the knockout round and any prize or trophy, The Athletic believes the league will utilize the $1 million from the bonus cut, to fund philanthropic organizations within the winning club’s home market.

Players are also granted an opt-out of the tournament, if there are personal or family medical conditions that arise before or during. However, those who do not participate, without the opt-out exemption, are reportedly set to face discipline. TSN Soccer talked about that in this twitter video.

League Revenue Loss

On top of the return of the league, commissioner Don Garber, told reporters on a conference call after the return-to-play announcement that the league is facing a loss of $1 billion in revenue due to the pandemic and the league hiatus.

He mentioned that the primary culprit of this loss is due to the league’s and club’s heavy reliance on match day revenue, something the other major professional leagues aren’t faced with.

Garber talked about how the league looked to cut costs across the board, with some making its way into the new CBA. However, he was optimistic even in the face of massive losses.

“…it speaks to the desire of our ownership to continue to be courageous and to continue to believe in a league.”

“We were able to literally cut hundreds of millions of dollars of spending. We went through salary adjustments at the league level and at the club level, both at the staff executive side and on the technical side.”

Don Garber – Media Conference Call

It isn’t all ideal, but this is still a massive step forward for professional leagues in the United States. To be the first major professional sport back on the docket is a big deal and could have massively positive repercussions, especially for soccer. Let’s hope that we get an actual regular season at Allianz Field before the year is over.

Jack Kewitsch | Minnesota Sports Fan

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