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NWSL compensation guidelines for 2020 announced

Salary cap increases nearly 20%

Nikita Taparia

Early today, the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) released new compensation guidelines for the upcoming 2020 season. These include changes to the salary cap, new opportunities to purchase allocation money, player contracts for up to 3 years, changes to housing/auto assistance, permission to pay transfer/selling fees and a 3-member discovery list. Many current Utah Royals could see contract changes under these new guidelines as described below.

2020 Salary Cap

The 2020 salary cap will be $650,000, which is a 19.33% overall increase. The maximum salary jumps to $50,000 in 2020, and the minimum salary also increases to $20,000. The comparable 2019 salaries were $46,200 and $16,538 respectively.

Allocation Money

A new allocation money mechanism will enable teams to invest funds in current or future player salaries in excess of the current season’s team salary cap. It also allows a player’s salary to be in excess of the league maximum salary for that year. Each teams may purchase up to $300,000 in allocation money from the league.

Allocation money must be used in connection with player contracts that exceed the league maximum salary ($50,000 in 2020) and allocation money may not be used for Canadian or U.S. allocated players. Players must meet one or more of the following criteria to be eligible:

  • NWSL Best XI or Second XI for either of the two most recent seasons (2019, 2018) (mainly U.S. WNT members and international stars such as Sam Kerr)
  • International players who have more than three caps for their national team in the prior 24 months (such as Rachel Corsie and Katie Bowen)
  • NWSL MVP, Golden Boot, Rookie of the Year or Defender of the Year winner for one of the two most recent seasons (2019, 2018) (see Best XI and Second XI above)
  • Domestic players who have completed at least five seasons in the NWSL (such as Amy Rodriguez, Taylor Lytle and Nicole Barnhart)
  • Players who were formerly designated as allocated players by the U.S. or Canada or received money as part of allocation contracts (unless if the player refused the option to be allocated)

Length of Player Contracts

Beginning with the 2020 NWSL season, there will be no limit on the number of guaranteed contracts permitted, and all contracts for international players and contracts that utilize allocation money must be guaranteed.

Players may also be signed to contracts for up to three years and a single option year may be added to those contracts

Housing and Automobile Allowances

Housing and auto expenses will not be included in the salary cap. All players on a team’s senior and supplemental rosters must be provided housing while the player remains under contract. Housing will be in the form of an individual or shared apartment or house, or by providing the player with a stipend for housing costs.

Teams are not required to provide cars to all players, but if they choose to, the car must be available to the player for the entire duration of the season.

Transfer Fees

NWSL teams are now permitted to pay transfer fees to acquire players outside the NWSL. Transfer fees must be paid using allocation money, and there is no limit on the number of transfer fees paid per season, but teams must stay within the league’s allocation money limit.

Teams may also sell rights to players, excluding U.S. allocated players, to teams outside the NWSL. When selling a player’s rights, teams may either retain the rights to the player within the NWSL or keep a portion of the transfer fee.

Discovery List

Each team may have up to three players on their discovery lists at any given time, except for the period between the day after the NWSL Championship and the day before the first match of the following NWSL regular season. During that period, teams may have up to seven players on their discovery lists. Players can be removed from a team’s discovery list at any time. The discovery period is now perpetual, meaning there is no start or end date.

Players will automatically be removed from a team’s discovery list after they have been on the list for 365 days. Teams must wait 90 days before putting the player back on their list.