[MLS] Major League Soccer and the MLS Players Union reached an agreement in principle Saturday on a new five-year collective bargaining agreement, averting a strike scheduled for the start of the 2010 season.
Among the terms of the deal which still needs to be approved and then announced:
-- a re-entry draft for players of a certain age who are out of contract or whose options are not picked up.
WHAT THE PLAYERS GET: Players will have in a very small way the ability to control their future when they are out of contract, ie they can move without their former club having to agree to a deal with their new club. "We made progress on this area," MLS Players Union Executive Director Bob Foose said. "Not necessarily as much as we would have chosen, but that's collective bargaining." Translation: the players get little.
WHAT MLS GETS: No free agency. "MLS was founded on the principle that our owners would not be competing against each other for players' services," MLS commissioner Don Garber said. "When we think of free agency, it's that concept of internal bidding and there will not be internal bidding."
-- guaranteed contracts for a majority of players based on age and service in the league.
WHAT THE PLAYERS GET: Between 55 and 60 percent of players will now get guaranteed contracts. Of those players who will now get guaranteed contracts but didn't before, many will be veteran American players, who form the union's rank and file.
WHAT MLS GETS: Teams will be able to replace players without guaranteed contracts, meaning they can make lots of mid-season moves to upgrade -- they hope -- their rosters. That's significant since most players become available during the summer transfer window after their contracts with European clubs expire.
-- greater compensation for players.
WHAT THE PLAYERS GET: While the details on player compensation -- salary cap and minimum salaries -- have not been revealed, they are believed to include a nice boost in minimum salaries.
WHAT MLS GETS: Higher minimum salaries relieve MLS of what has been an embarrassing p.r. issue -- stories of young players in recent years trying to get by on as little as $12,900 a year. Big picture: MLS owners will pay relatively modest increases in salaries over the next five years, which makes the league a very attractive proposition to outside investors -- a league that at the moment has only two teams -- Seattle and Toronto -- making money.