Finally, Major League Soccer appears to be taking its youth development programs seriously. Or at least more seriously than before, when MLS clubs had very little chance of signing players developed in their own youth systems.
For starters, MLS will add two roster spots to each club’s limit, with the spots reserved for home grown players, which the league defines as “players registered for at least 12 months in an MLS youth program.”
MLS clubs may also sign home grown players from their youth development programs to Generation adidas contracts without those players having to go through the SuperDraft.
The result is a Byzantine roster and salary structure that is best quoted verbatim from the league’s press release:
Senior Roster (Slots 1-20)
MLS teams may have 18-20 players on their senior roster. These players will make no less than $40,000 per year and count against the 2010 team salary budget of $2,550,000.
Protected Roster (Slots 21-26)
Teams may have up to six players that do not count against the salary budget. Players on this roster may include Generation adidas players, players earning the 2010 league minimum player salary of $40,000 per year, and two of these six slots are reserved for home grown players who earn a minimum of $31,250 in 2010.
Teams are not required to fill all 26 slots at any given time.
Perhaps just as significantly, MLS increased the portion of a transfer fee that a club receives in the event that one of its home grown players signs abroad. The league also increased the amount of that revenue that can be used as allocation money.
Previously, an MLS club received 2/3 of any fee collected for one of its players transferring (or being loaned) abroad, with the league distributing the remaining third among all owners. Now, revenue from player transfers and loans will be divided as follows (again, best to quote the league’s own words on this):
Home Grown Player:
• Club receives 3/4 of transfer fee revenue and the League receives 1/4
Generation adidas players & non home grown players acquired in the SuperDraft:
• 1 Year of service: 1/3 to Club and 2/3 to League
• 2 Years: 1/2 to Club and 1/2 to League
• 3+ Years: 2/3 to Club and 1/3 to League
All other players:
• Club receives 2/3 of the transfer fee revenue and the League receives 1/3
The maximum amount of a given transfer fee’s revenue that may be used by a club as allocation money has increased from $500,000 to $650,000. Allocation money may be used to reduce the portion of a player’s compensation that counts against a club’s salary budget in connection with signing players new to MLS, or re-signing existing MLS players to a new contract.
If you find this confusing you’re probably not alone. The rules are surely tough enough for the league itself to keep track of. For fans and journalists and the general public, who are not provided information on individual salaries or contracts, it’s downright befuddling.
Still, the important thing is that clubs will be compensated more, and better, for developing players in-house. Give the league credit for that.