The much hyped arrival of new franchises to Major League Soccer was almost derailed by a dispute over a new collective bargaining agreement, the BBC reports. By far the biggest sigh of relief will have been heard at the headquarters of New York City FC, the best known new franchise destined to start their season over the coming weekend. The links to English champions Manchester City are well known with the future of Frank Lampard a keen area of discussion for the executives and fans at both clubs, Lampard is expected to arrive in New York at the end of the current English season he has spent on loan to the English side of the soccer business.
Jason Halpern says the new agreement sees many improvements for players in the league, including a higher minimum wage and salary caps for teams competing. However, the use of free agency is also a major topic that was thought to have stalled the new CBA and threatened a strike. The MLS has made great use of free agency in Europe and used it to sign Lampard, Spanish international striker David Villa and former England captain Steven Gerrard. Free agency will now be available for players in the MLS aged 28 and over who have played in the league for eight years or more. The season begins with the Chicago Fire taking on the LA Galaxy.