Major League Soccer players ratified an amended collective bargaining agreement on Monday after the league and Players’ Association reached an agreement that will expire at the end of the 2027 season.
The MLS Board of Governors also approved the deal on Monday.
« MLS players have made incredible sacrifices and overcome tremendous challenges over the past year to continue doing their job during a difficult time for all of us, » the Players’ Association said in an official statement.
“We are extremely indebted to the leadership of the players who continue to guide us through these unprecedented times. x
The agreement reached on Friday evening ensures the players their full salary in 2021 and adds two years to the duration of the collective agreement. The Players Association had proposed a one-year extension, until the end of 2026.
Starting in 2026, free agents must be 24 years old and have a minimum of four years of league experience. This is one year less than in the old employment contract.
The amount of money that free agents can earn will be increased during the last two years of the agreement.
The amended collective agreement also includes salary increases for players in each of the last two years of the agreement.
MLS executives had invoked force majeure towards the end of December to reopen the current collective bargaining agreement, citing continued uncertainty due to the COVID-19 crisis.
League officials said they lost nearly $1 billion last season, in part due to the pandemic that forced teams to play in mostly deserted stadiums.
The league says it has also faced cost increases related to drug testing and more charter flights.
MLS executives expect losses of a similar magnitude this year.
The union and league executives endured two tough rounds of negotiations last year, first in February before the season started and the other in June when players had to take a pay cut to relaunch the 2020 season.
“We have tremendous respect and appreciation for everything the players have done to help build the league and the sport over the years, and they have gone above and beyond during the pandemic,” said the Commissioner Don Garber, in a statement.
“We thank the leadership of the Players’ Association and the players for their thoughtful and collaborative approach to the new collective agreement. We have worked together to respond to the continued impact of COVID-19 on the league, and we appreciate the players’ efforts to develop a collective agreement that addresses the uncertainty of the pandemic while providing stability during the next seven years to ensure further growth. »
MLS executives had warned teams to prepare for a lockout if the two sides could not come to an agreement.
Since its inception in 1996, MLS has never ceased operations due to a labor dispute.