NWSL raises salaries, adds allocation money for 2020 season


North Carolina Courage’s Heather O’Reilly, center, holds the championship trophy following the team’s win over the Chicago Red Stars in an NWSL championship soccer game in Cary, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

The National Women’s Soccer League announced rule changes Friday for the 2020 season that will increase player salaries and team salary caps, as well as add $300,000 per team in allocation money to attract and retain top players.

The league’s maximum salary for non-allocated players was increased from $46,200 to $50,000, with the minimum salary rising from $16,538 to $20,000. U.S. and Canadian national team players who are allocated across the league are paid by their federations.

The overall team salary cap was increased by nearly 20% to $650,000 per team.

The addition of allocation money is key because it allows the league to compete with European teams for players. The funds could only be used for players with contracts larger than the league maximum who are not allocated. Other criteria must also be met, but it may help the league’s teams attract high-profile international stars.

“The league’s owners are committed to investing in our world-class players,” NWSL President Amanda Duffy said in a prepared statement. “This is an important step in the growth of the league from which every NWSL player, current and future, will benefit and these changes will further enhance the league’s global leadership in the women’s game.”

Last week, the NWSL announced an expansion team in Louisville, Kentucky, to start play in 2021, as rumors swirled about additional expansion in the nine-team league for next season.

The NWSL’s seventh season concluded Sunday when the North Carolina Courage defeated the Chicago Red Stars 4-0 in the league title game in Cary, North Carolina. A sellout crowd of 10,227 attended the championship game at Sahlen’s Stadium.

During the regular season, the league experienced the so-called World Cup Bump with all nine teams seeing an increase in attendance. The average across the league was 7,337 fans per game, up from 6,024 last season.

The new league rules also require year-round housing, or an appropriate housing stipend, for players.

The rules were approved by the league’s owners on Monday.

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