MLS salaries, charter flights rise in new labor deal

Sports

FILE – In this Nov. 10, 2019, file photo, Seattle Sounders captain Nicolas Lodeiro, right, lifts the MLS Cup trophy as he celebrates with teammates after the Sounders defeated Toronto FC in the MLS Cup championship soccer match in Seattle. Major League Soccer and its players have reached a new five-year collective bargaining agreement in time for the start of the season. The new contract must be approved by the MLS Board of Governors and the membership of the Major League Soccer Players Association. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

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NEW YORK (AP) — The minimum salary for senior players in Major League Soccer will rise from $70,250 last year to $109,200 in 2024 as part of a five-year collective bargaining agreement, and the use of charter flights will expand.

Free agent eligibility also will increase under the agreement announced Thursday, which is subject to ratification by both sides.

“This agreement addresses key strategic priorities for the league and our players while also retaining the basic player compensation structure that has been the foundation for the growth and stability of Major League Soccer,” Commissioner Don Garber said in a prepared statement. “We had constructive, positive discussions with the leadership of the MLSPA and the players’ bargaining committee during the negotiations over the last few months and I would like to thank them for their collaboration in concluding an agreement that will serve as the foundation for a new era of partnership with our players.”

Spending power per team will go up from $8.49 million last year to $11,643,000 in the final season of the deal. The agreement includes a provision in which players will share in increased media revenue in 2023 and 2024. Player spending will go up by an amount equal to 25% above the 2022 figure plus $100 million.

Each team has 18-20 players on its senior roster, and their minimum rises to $81,375 this year. Each team has up to eight players on its reserve roster, and their minimum goes up from $56,250 last year to $63,547 this season and $85,502 in 2024.

Under the expired contract, each team had the right to use a charter flight on up to four legs per season. Under the new deal, teams must go by charter for eight legs this year and the figure will expand to 16 by 2024. Teams also will have to use charters for all postseason games and all CONCACAF Champions League games involving international flights.

Players who are at least 24 and have five years of MLS service will be eligible for free agency, down from 28 and eight years of service. The deal caps the increases in contracts for free agents.

Designated players also will have some free-agent rights.

Starting next year, MLS has the right to allow each club to sign as many as three players 22 or younger with a reduced budget charge.

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