This past winter, many Americans began watching soccer for the first time in years or for the first time in their lives. This was because the United States men’s soccer team was back in the World Cup for the first time in 8 years. The World Cup has created thousands of new soccer fans across the globe and especially new fans in America. The expanding market of American soccer fans has, in turn, helped Major League Soccer grow its own fan base too. This growth of new fans has led to expansion teams, new stadiums, and higher-skilled players coming to America. The past three MLS seasons have led to record high transfer fees and salaries that the league has never seen before. But, with all this new success, how does the MLS compare to larger and established leagues like the English Premier League?
For starters, there is a serious difference in value when comparing the most expensive and least expensive teams’ annual salaries in each respective league. The most expensive annual salary of any team in the MLS is Toronto FC with an annual salary of over $33,241,969, while the top team in the Premier League, Manchester City, has an annual salary of $211,645,000. The lowest annual salary in the Premier League is Brentford, with an annual salary of $31,636,000. Only Toronto FC has a higher salary than Brentford and the lowest annual salary in the MLS is the newly created team Minnesota United FC is $10,284,693. The large wealth disparity between the Premier League and the MLS is a major issue when MLS teams are looking to acquire high-level talent when English Premier teams can offer double or triple the salary you are offering.
Upcoming stars looking to continue their high level of play and be properly compensated for their skill will look at other stars around the world, what league they play in, and how much they are getting paid. The English Premier League’s highest player annual salary is the newly signed Erling Haaland, which Manchester City is currently paying an annual salary of $20,800,000. Haaland’s salary alone is more money than all but two MLS teams' entire annual salary. When upcoming stars see that they can earn a salary in the same ballpark as Haaland’s earnings, it is hard for MLS teams to convince a player to earn less money to come to play in America.
The Premier League does not have a salary cap and allows owners to shell out millions of dollars to make sure they put out the best possible players and overall game. The MLS can bridge the gap in popularity if they can convince potential owners to invest in world-class players in order to become a top league in the world.
Evan Lautato, 1L at St. John’s University of Law School, 1L Representative for the Entertainment and Sports Law Society, www.linkedin.com/in/evan-lautato-a4bb14178