Monday, January 05, 2009

MLS Pay Problems from a Player Perspective

Yanks Abroad has a good interview with reader submitted questions for Matt Taylor, a former MLS player who is now successfully plying his trade in Bundesliga 2 with TuS Koblenz (and scoring a lot of goals while he is at it). Lots of good questions, but this one really needs to hit home for the MLS.
IX) What would you say that MLS needs to do to keep players like yourself in the league? What was your biggest complaint of how the league is structured?

- Andrew Chester, Poway, California

The obvious reasons for players to leave the US would be money and opportunity; it is difficult with a salary cap and the lower interest level in the sport.

In Germany, for example there is so much opportunity to climb the pay-scale and play for better teams in Europe. It seems that the sky is the limit here. If a player has a good season, a better team can buy him, which is a win win situation. The player then gets to play on a better team with better competition and also earns more money.

In MLS, if a player has a good season, not much will happen because this player probably has a long term contract with minimal, non-performance based increases factored into the deal.

MLS teams do not sell or buy players within the league and there is no incentive when players are traded. This structure inhibits players from realizing their true value. If MLS adopted a promotion-relegation system, and let the free market determine player values, both fan and player interest would increase.

The current system may have been necessary to the formation of the league, and MLS will probably evolve into something closer to the European model.
For me the salary cap does impose some problems and I would like to see the MLS move away from the hard salary cap and its multiple restrictions and exemptions (like Designated players and Generation Addidas and academy exemptiosn) and move toward something like Major League Baseball's luxury tax system.

But from a marketing perspective, MLS clubs really need to play up their young Americans stars and then do as much as possible to keep them here and playing.

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