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How to resolve MLS labor strife
Pitch Invasion, March 18th, 2010 5:01AM

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Peter Wilt, the former Chicago Fire president and general manager, proposes solutions to the MLS labor strife and outlines the details of the dispute that threatens to lead to a players strike. Wilt says there are reportedly three main issues that the players are seeking concessions on: free agency, guaranteed contracts and receiving 10 percent of international transfer fees.

Free agency would lead to increased compensation for current “middle to upper class” MLS players who really don’t have good European options.  With free agency, instead of spending money on retaining or attracting the best talent, the league would be spending money retaining players who really don’t have better options. But free agency also has the potential to squeeze out the league's middle class players because bidding would result in higher salaries for the best players, leaving less money for the rest. Wilt's proposal calls for free agency after seven years in MLS.

Regarding guaranteed contracts, currently, standard contracts are one year, plus three one-year league options with no minimum number of guaranteed contracts per team.  Wilt proposes the same for length of contracts and options, but the creation of a minimum of four guaranteed contracts per team, growing to six over the course of the collective bargaining agreement.

On international transfers, MLS and the MLS team retain 100% of the international transfer fee with the league keeping 2/3 and the teams keeping 1/3.  In the rest of the world the player or his representative receives 10%. Wilt suggest that although this is an important issue to the agents and a few of the high-end players, the players acquiesce on this issue in exchange for cracking the door on free agency.

On other issues, Wilt proposes an increase in annual salary raises from the current 5% for most players to 7% increases for the 2nd and 3rd year, and 10% for fourth. He does not advocate team autonomy to negotiate contracts, but suggests a steady increase in roster sizes over the years that would eventually reach 32. He also suggests an increase in minimum salaries for senior roster members and for developmental players.

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