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  • Cap debate gets interesting


    My ongoing debate with Bill Archer over the future of the Major League Soccer salary cap is finally starting to bear fruit.

    For me, this was never about Bill. It was about trying to raise awareness and debate of the idea of creating a two-tier cap for MLS, where individual ownership groups could spend some of their own money to ease parity and increase the standard of play in Our Little League.

    And, while we’re still getting troll tracks from under the bridge in Uniontown, two very fine American bloggers have taken the time and care to elevate the discussion nicely. Both Dan Loney of BigSoccer and the anonymous mind behind The Fake Sigi Schmid Blog are arguing elegantly – against the idea.


    The figure on the table is an overall cap of $10 million, as proposed last December by Richard Snowden at Soccer365.com. I feel this number is way too high, but it remains our starting point.

    Here’s Fake Sigi:

    “Under [snowden’s] terms, MLS clubs could spend up to $10 million on *any* players, including Americans. The result would effectively *quadruple* the current salary cap, and would result in massive wage inflation across the board as every team would be forced to spend more just to keep the players it has. The fact that the last $7 million would come out of an owner's pocket instead of the league's coffers does nothing to mask the massive increase in wages. Given the limited pool of American talent (and even more limited pool of Canadians), the league would not see a proportionate jump in the quality of play compared to the massive costs incurred.”

    That there’s a counter-argument. I see a disconnect in my argument now. I was hoping the salary jumps would be discretionary, on a team-by-team basis, as they are in the current Designated Player arrangement. Clearly, it’s not that simple, and the idea needs some tinkering.

    Rather than rush into that, let me offer a couple more thoughts for – I hope – the same sort of intelligent response:

    1) Can we at least eliminate the DP cap hit? Right now, DPs can sign for any amount of ownership dosh, but $400,000 counts against the cap. That’s a sixth of everything, minus whatever allocation deals have been wrought. Icing that little bit of bookkeeping frees up more money for everyone else. (Okay, not every team has a DP. But the ones that don’t already have access to that cash.)

    2) Can we pay MLS rookies a living wage? I made more writing about soccer for the Globe and Mail last season than some players got for playing the game. That was part-time money, and I am not a wealthy man. That $400,000 would come in very handy for keeping decent prospects from having to hot-plate hot dogs in shared college dorm rooms.

    3) If we’re not going to allow a soft salary cap, what about a second DP? Again, without a cap hit.

    The idea here is to try to end this endless parity. We’re not talking about enough cash to eliminate most teams from any chance of winning before the season starts. I deplore that everywhere else in the world. I certainly don’t want to see it in MLS.

    But we’re losing a lot of drama. This league needs a powerhouse team (or two, or three) everyone else can get angry about. The L.A. Galaxy would be there right now if landing David Beckham had translated into winning back-to-back MLS Cups.

    I’m not trying to destroy the league, people. At least Loney and Fake Sigi are making coherent arguments about the pitfalls in the two-tier plan, without feeling they have to recast the Addams Family with my friends.

    Okay! I don’t know the answer.

    But the questions are going to keep coming. I look forward to (almost) everyone’s response.


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