February 6, 2020 / 4:40 PM / in 17 days

Soccer: Major League Soccer and players reach new deal

(Reuters) - Major League Soccer (MLS) has reached an agreement in principle on a new five-year collective bargaining agreement with its players, who will gain a share in media revenue for the first time, MLS said on Thursday.

The agreement avoids what would have been a potentially damaging work stoppage with the league preparing to celebrate the launch of its 25th season.

As part of the deal, reached three weeks before the season kicks off on Feb. 29, player spend per club will include a share of the increased revenue generated by the league’s new media agreements in 2023 and 2024.

The deal, which is subject to the approval of the MLS Board of Governors and the membership of the MLS Players Association, also includes greater investment in player spending, expanded free agency and greater salary budget flexibility.

“This agreement addresses key strategic priorities for the league and our players while also retaining the basic player compensation structure that has been the foundation for the growth and stability of Major League Soccer,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement.

The current CBA had expired on Jan. 31 but the league and players extended the agreement through to Feb. 7 in a push to get a deal done.

MLS has seen tremendous growth in recent years with more franchises set to join the league.

Nashville SC and Inter Miami CF will debut in 2020 followed by Austin FC in 2021 and St. Louis and Sacramento in 2022.

Reporting by Frank Pingue, Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Toby Davis

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