AUSTIN, Texas — The Major Soccer League (MLS) and Major Soccer League Player's Association (MLSPA) came to a tentative agreement in discussions of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) on Feb. 5. On Feb. 8, the two entities finalized the CBA agreement.
The CBA is the contract between the league and the player's association, which details everything from salary policy, free agency policy, etc.
MLS had previously announced its season start date for April 3 and training camp to begin on Feb. 22.
The deadline for a CBA agreement was set at 11:59 p.m. EST on Feb. 4, after the MLS extended its previous 30-day negotiating period – which would have ended on Jan. 29 – by one week. Because "negotiations have reached an advanced stage," the negotiating period was extended by 24 hours to 11:59 p.m. EST on Feb. 5.
A main point of emphasis from the league is its reported $1 billion revenue loss in 2020 due to COVID-19. The MLSPA, however, has cited its contributions to help league-wide operations continue. In a Jan. 28 press release, MLSPA stated it had already made more than $200 million in combined financial concessions.
The MLS provided this statement on Feb. 5, announcing the CBA agreement with the MLSPA:
"Major League Soccer and the Major League Soccer Players Association today reached a tentative agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The agreement, covering the next seven years from 2021 through 2027, is subject to the approval of the MLS Board of Governors and the membership of the MLSPA."
The back-and-forth in these CBA discussions put the Austin FC's inaugural season into question.
With the CBA agreement, a lockout was avoided. Major League Soccer has never had a lockout in its history.
- Two-year extension with expanded free agency: A two-year extension of the existing agreement; the new CBA runs through 2027.
Starting in the 2026 season, players 24 and older with at least four years of MLS service at the end of their contracts are eligible to become free agents within MLS, providing players at an earlier stage of their careers with opportunities to negotiate with and move to different MLS clubs.
- 100% compensation in 2021: Players will receive 100% of their compensation in 2021, including salaries and bonuses.
“We have enormous respect and appreciation for everything the players have done helping build the League and the sport throughout the years, and they've gone above and beyond during the pandemic,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “We thank the MLSPA leadership and the players for their thoughtful and collaborative approach on the new CBA. We worked together to address the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the League, and we appreciate the players’ efforts to develop a CBA that deals with the uncertainty of the pandemic while also providing stability during the next seven years to enable further growth. We look forward to seeing the players on the training field in a few weeks as they begin preparations for the upcoming season.”
Austin FC President Andy Loughnane told the media that Q2 Stadium's construction was slated to be finished by late March to early April. However, he added that the stadium would not be ready to host a home game until potentially early June.
"There are some things happening on ancillary, adjacent private land that are very important to the ecosystem of the stadium. There is private land that is being built on off of Burnet [Road]. There is a traffic signal being installed off of Burnet and a traffic signal being installed off of Braker [Lane]. There is some Q2 signage. There's also some training that has to go on with staff and so, what I'm describing is under any circumstance, I don't anticipate our first MLS match taking place until early June." Loughnane said.
MLS said it will announce the 2021 regular season schedule in the coming weeks.
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