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Does the MLS Salary Cap Prevent it From Becoming a Top Tier League?
For a sport that isn’t considered “popular” in the United States, Major League Soccer (MLS) is Americas’ fastest growing sport. According to Forbes “The MLS’ average attendance surged to 18,600, a more than 35% increase since 2000.” A large part of this success can be attributed to big name stars who come to play from Europe, when they no longer possess the physical attributes to compete with top players at the highest level. High profile players such as, Thierry Henry, David Beckham, Kaka, and David Villa continue to attract a large fan base.
While these super stars create a larger fan base, the MLS also doesn’t want to be known as a league where superstars come to retire. In order to prevent that from occurring the MLS needs to be willing to change three aspects of its program; salary caps, the youth system, and overall competitiveness, this article will focus on the aspect of salary caps.
As it stands an MLS team is allowed to spend $3.7 million on 20-24 players. This doesn’t take into account the super star players listed above such as Kaka, for example whose yearly base salary is well over six million dollars.
While these superstars are making seven figure paychecks, not everyone is that lucky. The average MLS player makes $180,000 a year. That may sound good especially since the average was a little over $100,000 in 2007, but it isn’t until we look at top tier European players salaries that we understand just how big the differences are.
Manchester City Football Club (MCFC) is one of the best and most popular teams in the world, they’re also one of the richest. The Average yearly salary for a MCFC player is an astounding $8,100,000, which comes out to a little over $155,000 a week.
So you’re probably asking yourself, why would a player in Europe who makes the same amount of money in a week as an MLS player makes in a year want to go to America to play for less on a far less competitive level? They wouldn’t and they don’t.
This isn’t a problem that can be solved overnight, or even over a year, however the abolishment of a salary cap could ultimately attract third and fourth string benched players at major clubs, who for one reason or another may only play two or three games for these superstar dominated teams. In doing so these players, who obviously are talented enough to attract top tier teams can come to the MLS for good pay and guaranteed playing time, which in turn will boost the talent level. Lets face it an athlete’s skill level will only improves when they play with and against players more talented than themselves.