MLS Increases Roster Size to 26 to Allow for More Home Grown Players
Clubs given added incentives to develop young players
NEW YORK (April 8, 2010) – As part of Major League Soccer’s ongoing efforts to improve the quality of play, the League has added two additional roster slots per club for Home Grown Players identified and developed by the local club. This creates additional opportunities for top young players in the United States and Canada to gain MLS experience.
In conjunction with the League’s partnership with adidas and its commitment to player development, 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.
MLS launched its youth development initiative prior to the 2007 season, requiring each team to establish a program separate from the first team with at least two youth teams and a full-time coaching staff. Several of these programs are free of cost to the players.
“Our clubs have made a significant investment in their youth academies and many of those players are ready to take the next step in their development by becoming professionals. We have increased the roster size to ensure that our teams have the ability to sign those players,” said Todd Durbin, MLS EVP of Player Relations and Competition. “This change illustrates our continued long-term commitment to player development.”
Players registered for at least 12 months in an MLS youth program become eligible to sign a professional contract with that team without entering the MLS SuperDraft. These are known as Home Grown Players, and teams may sign up to four such players per year. Since the inception of the Home Grown Player initiative in 2007, 10 players have been added to MLS club rosters with this mechanism.
“With the Generation adidas program and ongoing youth initiatives, adidas has a long-standing commitment to player development in the US,” said Antonio Zea, director of soccer for adidas America. “This roster expansion takes the important step of adding to the number of players getting experience at the professional level and gives up-and-coming players one more opportunity to play for their hometown teams. We at adidas are proud to be partnering with MLS to offer these additional on-field opportunities.”
Each MLS team’s 26-player roster is now structured as follows:
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.
At the same time, 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.
Revenue generated from transfer and loan fees provides an incentive for MLS clubs to invest in their scouting and youth development programs. 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:
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.