So most of us in our lives have had several jobs, for me I have many in several different fields in several different states and for varying lengths of time. As I think about what MLS players face it really does seem as if the current system (unique from almost every other sports league in the world) is horribly wrong. Even in this day of NDA’s and No Compete clauses, the following simply would not be acceptable to any worker, so there is no reason why MLS players should have to deal with scenarios like this:
Imagine that you were working at company A but you really wanted to go to work for company B, but you could only do that if company A said you could and company B was willing to give company A something in return, and then that could only happen if company C agreed to let it happen. Or if you were working at company A and they decided they didn’t want you as an employee anymore so they let you go, you found another company that wanted to hire you but if they were in the same industry in the same country that company A had to agree to let you work there, would again want some type of compensation and again company C would have to approve it. Now you could leave the country and go work for company D, but if you ever came back to the US and wanted to work for company B, you would still need the permission of company A, who would probably want some type of compensation and you would need to involve company C. Of course all of this is subjective to if company C wants those rules to apply or not, you could find that company C wants you to work for company E and while you don’t want to work for them, your ability to choose is limited to what company C decides.
MLS was formed using a single entity, in part so owners could partner together to minimized potential losses and in larger part to allow for controlled costs. As players were signed, they were signed by MLS who then determined or approved where that player would play and to be honest that probably was needed in 1996 and was probably still needed 10 years later, but since 2005 the league has grown, expansion teams, new DP level contracts and now heading into the 20th season the league is in a very different position. The players know this, they have had enough of Don Garber claiming the league and teams are $100 million in debt while the league had no problem shelling out over $30 million in transfer fees and salaries for just 2 players last year, or in a season when two new teams that paid more than $150 million combined to join the league, or in a year that will see the start of their new much more financially rewarding TV deal. So when Don and others step up on their soapboxes against Free Agency saying it would drive up salaries, everyone rolls their eyes. See Don and the owners have had no problem spending huge amounts of money for their big name DP’s so the average salary has climbed in response to that, but the reality is rather simple.