MLS players agree to tentative CBA with league

Major League Soccer and the Major League Soccer Players Association reached a tentative agreement for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement on Friday evening. The agreement will cover the next seven year through the 2027 season, pending the results of the player-wide vote this weekend. A simple majority will ratify the agreement.

According to ESPN‘s Jeff Carlisle, the MLSPA executive and bargaining committees approved the new deal by a vote of 24-11, after MLS extended the negotiation period for a second time last night, giving the sides until midnight on Friday to agree to a deal. Owners had threatened a lockout if a new CBA could not be reached.

If players vote to approve the deal, the league board of governors would need to approve it as well. This would pave the way for pre-season training camps to open on February 22, and the season to begin on April 3.

Extending the CBA through 2027 could mean that players will miss out on much of the economic benefit of hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2026, which is expected to increase the demand for the sport domestically. The new terms mean that players will lack leverage to negotiate a new CBA in the lead up to the tournament, and won’t be able to reach a new agreement until over a year after the tournament concludes.

Crucially, MLS will still retain the right to invoke Force Majeure. The league cited financial losses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic in their decision to invoke force majeure on December 29. The league and players had agreed to a new CBA just before the 2020 MLS season, and re-negotiated for a second time over the summer before their return to play in August. The latest round was the third time in the last year that the CBA has been re-negotiated.

UPDATED FEBRUARY 8: The MLSPA and MLS Board of Governors officially ratified the new CBA on Monday morning, avoiding a work stoppage.

Despite pushing the CBA back two years, the players will see incremental salary increases, as well as overall increases to team budgets, through the 2027 season.

The 2021 season is schedule to being on April 3, with training camps starting on February 22.

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