AUSTIN (KXAN) — The 2021 Major League Soccer season is a full-go after the league and the players finalized a new collective bargaining agreement Monday, stopping a potential lockout at the start of the season.
As a result, the first 32 seasons of MLS — from 1996 through 2027 — will occur without a work stoppage.
The two sides settled on the initial agreement Friday night. The agreement is officially locked in for the next seven years from 2021 through 2027 after being ratified by the MLS Board of Governors and the membership of the MLS Players Association, according to a league release.
The league originally set a deadline for last week, but it was extended through Thursday as the sides made progress. The deadline was extended again by 24 hours through Friday to cement an agreement, according to the Associated Press.
In this agreement, the CBA was extended two years through the 2027 season, and players will receive 100% of their compensation in 2021, including salaries and bonuses.
Starting in the 2026 season, players 24 and older with at least four years of MLS service at the end of their contracts will be eligible for free agency within MLS, the league says. The previous agreement required five years of service before becoming a free agent.
Player salaries will increase on both sides of the spectrum.
The release says the maximum a club can be charged for an individual player on the team’s salary budget, increases from $612,500 in 2021 to $883,438 in 2027.
The minimum salaries for players on the senior roster is set increase from $81,375 in 2021 to $125,875 in 2027. Minimum salaries for players on reserve rosters will increase from $63,547 in 2021 to $97,700 in 2024, according to the release.
What does this mean for Austin FC?
Austin FC’s under-construction Q2 Stadium in north Austin will likely not host a MLS match until June, according to Austin FC President Andy Loughnane.
Loughnane says stadium construction on Q2 Stadium will be completed on time around late March or early April, but there are other circumstances pushing the home opener.
The details around the stadium, like traffic signals, stadium signage and staff training, will require extra time before the new stadium fully turns its lights on.
The season will start the weekend of April 3, but Austin FC leadership expects to start its season on the road for the first two months.
The CW Austin, KNVA, will be the television home for Austin FC soccer for the inaugural 2021 season and the club’s 2022 season.
The CW Austin was named the flagship station of Austin FC’s English language broadcasts on Tuesday and will air a majority of Austin FC’s regional telecasts for the next two seasons. Any remaining regional broadcasts not on The CW Austin will air on either KXAN or KBVO.