While the final version of the CBA still hasn't been made public, the MLS has released more details of the major points of the new deal:
TERM: 2010 - 2014.
GUARANTEED CONTRACTS: The CBA provides for guaranteed contracts for all players who are at least 24 years old with three years of MLS service. The majority of the players in the League will have guaranteed contracts each season.
SALARY BUDGET: An increase of the salary budget from $2.315 million per club in 2009 to $2.55 million in 2010 (10.15%) and an increase of 5% per year thereafter.
An increase of the minimum salary for senior roster players from $34,000 in 2009 to $40,000 in 2010 (17.64%) and an increase of 5% per year thereafter.
The rest of the details after the jump:
PLAYER MOVEMENT: While there will be no bidding by MLS clubs against each other for out-of-contract players, the League will establish a "re-entry draft" for players who are out of contract. Although the specific parameters of that draft are being finalized, it will address players in each of the following categories:
Option Not Exercised
A player who is at least 23 years old with three years of MLS service and whose option is not exercised will be placed in a re-entry draft and made available to all clubs at his option salary.
A player who is at least 22 years old with one year of MLS service and who is asked to take a pay cut after contract termination will be placed in a re-entry draft and made available to all clubs at his current salary.
A player who is at least 30 years old with eight years of MLS service and whose contract has expired will be placed in a re-entry draft unless his team makes him a qualified offer that must be at least 105% of his last salary. If placed in the re-entry draft, the player will be made available to all clubs at a salary equal to 105% of his last salary.
A player who is at least 25 years of age with at least four years of MLS service whose contract has expired will be placed in a re-entry draft unless his team offers him a base salary of at least as much as the base salary paid to him in the last year of his contract. If placed in the re-entry draft, the player will be made available to all clubs at a salary equal to the salary in the final year of his contract.
OPTIONS IN PLAYER CONTRACTS: A limit on the number of options in player contracts to two for players who are at least 25 years old with four years of MLS service. Contracts for all other players may have up to three options.
For players whose annual compensation is less than $125,000, the minimum increase in base salary will be 10% for players who play in at least 66% of his club's games and 12.5% for players who play in at least 75% of his club's games.
PLAYER BENEFITS: The CBA includes a package of benefits that include increases in 401K contributions by the League, appearance fees, per diem when travelling and relocation expense reimbursement. Among the additional player benefits in the CBA are full health care benefits for every player and his family at no cost, 401(k) contributions and expanded insurance benefits.
BONUSES FOR WINS AND EXHIBITIONS: The CBA includes a package of bonuses for wins in MLS games and international tournaments as well as appearance fees for international exhibitions.
GROUP LICENSE: The League and Players Union reached agreement on an extension of the Group License that will run through 2015 (a year longer than the CBA).
RESERVE DIVISION: MLS and the Players Union will establish a joint committee to study the re-launch of a Reserve Division. In the event the rosters are expanded, the salary for those players will be a minimum of $31,250 with additional annual increases.
So while it is clear the the players got a nice raise, especially on the lower end of the salary scale (something I thought had to be done), the cap went up (another thing I fully supported), the quality of life issues like insurance, 401K were improved (again fully supported), their biggest win was on guaranteed contracts (something I didn't support). Given the conditions for guaranteed contracts, I actually can support these, it means a player will have to have proved themselves an asset over 3 seasons, which will still allow teams to take changes with new players without committing to them long term until they have "earned" their stripes.
I think the players did really well on a couple things that weren't on the radar of many people, a probably return of the reserve division (something I have always favored), and more bonuses based on performance (another idea that I love).
I know many of the players who spoke out during the CBA talks made the main topic seem to be Free Agency (something I didn't think could work with the league structure) but what came out of the talks was a far cry from Free Agency, and while the impact of the re-entry draft will take some time to be known and I still don't know the details of players who leave MLS and come back to the league, it seems like the league was able to grant some options to the players that will not cause the potential conflicts of interest that typical Free Agency would have brought about.
I know both sides have been very cordial since the deal was signed last weekend, and many of the players who were very vocal about their demands, now seem to think that they have it better than workers at Wal-Mart or Burger King (which they had it better than them all along) and hopefully both sides now have a much better understanding of how to work together to grow our league and the impact of the beautiful game on the North American sports scene.
OFF MY SOAPBOX