After an agreement was reached yesterday between MLS and the MLSPA over a new CBA, many NASL fans began to wonder what effect that agreement would have on the competing league. There have been a few articles already written discussing the matter, though frankly, nothing I've seen on the subject yet strikes me as anything but random speculation without having taken the time to really digest the new CBA.
NASL commissioner Bill Peterson had some comments about it on Thursday when he spoke to SBI:
"It won’t effect anything we’re doing. I think you find that more and more of the agents and more and more of the players start to realize what free agency really looks like when they come into the NASL and that’s one of our advantages, one of our unique selling points, that a player can come in and prove himself at a very high level and, in a short period of time, go back out there onto the market."
Peterson also commented on the increased minimum salary agreed upon in the new deal, something a few pundits believe could prevent NASL clubs from attracting players from MLS.
"It wasn’t raised enough to affect the fundamentals of the game here. The cost of living has increased. I’ve seen that some people were concerned because we don’t have a minimum salary, but we have something even better, and it’s called total free agency. If a club makes an offer to a player and he doesn’t like it, he’s free to go somewhere else and get another offer. That’s the real advantage here."
"We’re comparing apples and oranges here. They have a system that they like with the CBA. We have a system that we love, and that’s a free market system."
I'd have to agree that we're comparing two very different animals here, with the NASL system being very similar to the one used throughout the rest of the world, while MLS continues to be unlike anything else used in the sport, despite the relatively minimal changes they appear to have made this week. Any advantage the NASL may have already had due to their more player-friendly system still exists today, and will for at least five years.
That said, I'd love to see this agreement push the NASL to rethink some of their regulations which I feel were never needed in the first place, specifically the limit of seven 'international' players in the squad. If we want to open the door for NASL clubs to truly compete with MLS on the pitch, taking those restrictions away and allowing clubs to build squads in the manner of their choosing would be an excellent next step to take. There's just no reason to force NASL clubs to fight for the same talent pool as MLS, especially as many of those clubs don't have the financial means to do so.
Regardless, it's good to see what Peterson had to say following the agreement, and it's nice that MLS fans who've already purchased their season tickets will be able to start their season as planned.