MLS is one of the only football leagues in the world with a salary budget, and fans continue to lean on this as the main argument for slow growth seen over the past two decades. Roster restrictions have been a huge part of the debate since the league formed back in 1993 and the addition of designated player rules, international slots and two different types of allocation money have only complicated the matter.
The league is unable to do much until the current deal expires, but with negotiations set to begin soon over a new contract, journalist Paul Tenorio has revealed that MLS is seriously considering major changes to the current arrangement.
In his piece on homegrown vs designated players, Tenorio states: "[The league] is weighing other changes that are necessary to accelerate the league’s growth. Among those is significantly altering the salary budgets—many GMs would like to see the number triple, at least—and potentially increasing the size of both the senior and reserve rosters."
Tripling the salary budget would be a huge change from the former policy of the leagues hierarchy, who have been slowly increasing the amount teams can spend on salaries from $1.2m to $4.2 over the past 23 years. As the cap has gone up, the quality of play in the league has followed, leading fans to push strongly for a higher budget.
If the league decides to go through with its expansive budget plans, owners would certainly want to remove some of the existing roster limitations and constraints. Many people believe that eliminating the entire system of allocation money could be enough to sway the owners to agree to this new proposal. Further changes to the new collective bargaining agreement have included modifying the current roster limits and international slots to accommodate the growing league.
With plans to expand to 30 teams in just a few years time, it will be necessary for MLS to make adjustments early in the process so there are fewer problems and continued growth for football in the United States.