And they’re totally pro-management! No, no — longtime union rep Mark Levinstein is absolutely behind the players’ push for free agency and oddly insistent that the minimum salary needs to jump to $100,000.
Unlike the history in Major League Baseball, the NFL, the NBA, or the NHL, in this case MLS has protection from any serious adverse financial consequences from the first introduction of free agency because of the existence of an MLS salary cap. The dire predictions from the MLS about free agency causing dramatically escalating team salaries make no sense when owners remain protected by the salary cap – free agency just means at some point in their career players will have some say in where they play, where they live, and where they raise their families.
Players will not have to threaten to play overseas to get fair financial treatment.
Yes … but … there will be losers among the players in a brave new world of free agency. And “overseas” is a vast term that includes everything from the Premier League to countries that aren’t renowned for paying players on time.
Of course, if you’re still touting the possibility of another antitrust suit against MLS, you’re probably thinking Levinstein shouldn’t have mentioned the whole “overseas” option.
But the takeaway here, once again, is the case MLS has not made: Why complain about players competing for slices of a limited pie?
Some media reports of the labor situation point to baseball and how quickly salaries escalated in the free agent era. That’s misleading. Baseball still has no salary cap. And baseball has convinced people to pay an awful lot of money to televise its games or eat hot dogs in their ballparks.
A $100K minimum salary would be an interesting bargaining point. At least then we’d be pretty sure all the players are making more than all the journalists. But we don’t know that the MLS union is actually asking for that. If they were — would it be just for the players who spend the whole season with the senior club? Or will we see squads full of USL players making $100K?
In any case — we still have no evidence that players are pushing for anything unreasonable. And that’s going to be a PR problem for MLS for the foreseeable future.