Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America ClassifiedsGame Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
One date change means nothing
by Ridge Mahoney, March 2nd, 2010 3:02AM

MOST READ
TAGS:  mls, soccer business

MOST COMMENTED

The on-going negotiations, or lack of same, on a new collective bargaining agreement by MLS and the players’ union have prompted the league to push back the date by which teams must be roster and salary-cap compliant.

Since neither roster size nor the salary cap has been set for the 2010 season, this move is not only logical, but necessary. The league has not set a new date for such compliance but a good guess would be shortly before the March 25 season opener when expansion Philadelphia plays at 2009 expansion sensation Seattle.

That might also be a target date for the union to strike, which according to several league representatives, many players say they are willing to do. A week ago, MLS offered to operate the 2010 season under the same conditions as the document that expires Jan. 31; instead, union executive director Bob Foose issued a statement Thursday that the players would continue to train and play, for the time being.

This is far from business as usual, which can only occur if the players agree to operate under terms of the old CBA for the 2010 season, under which terms they cannot strike and the owners cannot lock them out. Otherwise, MLS and the union must agree on a new CBA on their own volition or some other mechanism – mediation and/or arbitration – is brought into the scenario to forge an agreement.

The only other alternative is a work stoppage, which is more than theoretically possible.

A statement released by the league office Monday said: “MLS is delaying the roster compliance date, originally scheduled for March 1, while discussions continue over related topics with the MLS Players Union. The roster compliance date will be set in the next few weeks.”

Neither roster sizes nor salary-cap specifications were written into that CBA, which did include minimums – certain percentages of the cap -- that each team must “spend” on their salary budgets. The MLS Board of Governors sets the salary cap season-by-season; several members wanted to bump up the cap last year but voted instead to keep it right around the $2.31 million figure it set for the 2008 season.

As anyone who’s followed these negotiations knows all too well, the “related topics” regard guaranteed years of contracts, which are nonexistent in most cases except for international players and those signed to Generation Adidas deals; the unilateral options tacked onto the last two years of most four-year contracts; and the lack of leverage for players waived, terminated or out of contract.

Any freedom of movement among players within MLS is derided as “free agency," and absolute anathema to MLS. A glance at the recent history of other American sports leagues reveals many forms of fettered player movement: restricted vs. unrestricted free agents, Plan A and Plan B free agents, etc.

MLS grants teams a right of first refusal -- as do many other U.S. pro leagues -- in some cases, such as for players who are waived. Teams also retain rights for players whose options have been declined and those whose contracts have expired, which requires a team wishing to sign those players to acquire their rights by some manner of a trade.

Other leagues have formulated tiers of free agency; while MLS is different in that it is a single-entity enterprise, one can’t blame the players for fighting to get at least some independence beyond the very narrow boundaries of MLS. While it follows complex formulas to calculate and stay within its salary budget, MLS can suppress salaries since there’s no real competition. It can’t match the salaries even Scandinavian teams give to young players, so it just ignores any aspect of the market except itself.

More time is better than no time, but the pushback of a date doesn’t mean the league is any more willing to edge closer to the players’ position.



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Confidential
Kljestan homecoming is going well    
After five seasons in Europe, midfielder Sacha Kljestan is readjusting to life in America and competing ...
World Cup of fraud and confederation of lies    
There is only one word to describe the 164-page indictment filed by Federal prosecutors against 14 ...
Quakes rookie Alashe hones skills against MLS's best    
The busy life of Quakes rookie midfielder Fatai Alashe includes a trip to France this month ...
Wondo's mark of 100 goals impresses everyone but him    
San Jose forward Chris Wondolowski joined eight players in the exclusive club of 100-goal scorers by ...
MLS in Yankee Stadium completes New York City soccer tapestry    
Three days. Not much time to soak in a city's soccer culture. But this is New ...
Women's World Cup all primed to be prime-time hit    
You heard it here first: With a little luck, Fox will break the record for the ...
Orlando City staff sends right messages but lacks wiggle room    
Expansion team Orlando City SC finally won a game at home, and did so impressively by ...
College or pro? Soccer in America increasingly faces a choice of how to develop players    
The rusting, gray Commodore Barry Bridge overlooked PPL Park, wind whirled on the pitch, and patches ...
Keith Tozer: 'USA is ready for pro futsal'    
The Professional Futsal League (PFL) is slated to launch in November 2016. Keith Tozer, who has ...
USA grooms new goddess of the air    
As sports teams go, the U.S. women's national team is tough to break into. But once ...
>> Soccer America Confidential Archives