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NWSL Nov 01, 2019

NWSL expands salary cap by nearly 20 percent for 2020 season

The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) today announced additions and advancements to its salary cap structure and compensation guidelines for the 2020 season.

“The league’s owners are committed to investing in our world-class players,” said NWSL President Amanda Duffy. “This is an important step in the growth of the league from which every NWSL player, current and future, will benefit and these changes will further enhance the league’s global leadership in the women’s game.”

Key changes to the salary cap, allocation money, player contracts, housing/auto assistance, transfer/selling fees and discovery are outlined below.

2020 Salary Cap

The league has announced the 2020 salary cap is set at $650,000, marking a 19.33% overall increase (excluding allocation money). The league maximum salary for 2020 has jumped to $50,000 and the league minimum salary has increased to $20,000. The 2019 season saw a maximum salary cap of $46,200 and a minimum of $16,538.

Allocation Money

New to the 2020 season the league has announced the introduction of allocation money. Allocation money enables team operators to invest funds in current or future players in excess of the current season’s team salary cap. It also would permit a player’s salary to be in excess of the league maximum salary. Teams may purchase up to $300,000 in allocation money from the league.

Allocation money may only be used in connection with player contracts that exceed the league maximum salary ($50,000) and allocation money may not be used for Canadian or U.S. allocated players. Other usage limits are outlined below. Players must meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • NWSL Best XI or Second XI for either of the two most recent seasons (2019, 2018)
  • International players who have more than three caps for their national team in the prior 24 months
  • NWSL MVP, Golden Boot, Rookie of the Year or Defender of the Year winner for one of the two most recent seasons (2019, 2018)
  • Domestic players who have completed at least five seasons in the NWSL
  • Players who were formerly designated as allocated players by the U.S. or Canada (unless if the player refused the option to be allocated)
  • Players previously on a contract that included allocation money

Player Contracts

Beginning with the 2020 NWSL season, there will be no limit on the number of guaranteed contracts permitted. However, all contracts for international players and contracts that utilize allocation money must be guaranteed.

Player contracts are no longer permitted to include “additional work” (for example, performing at camps, etc.).

Players may also be signed to contracts of lengths up to three years. The following contract formats are now acceptable: one year term, one year term + one option year, two year term, two year term + one option year, three year term, three year term + one option year.

Permitted Team Assistance

There will no longer be an additional cap for teams to assist players in areas such as housing and auto expenses. Instead, housing will be provided for all players on a team’s senior and supplemental rosters and must be provided while the player remains under contract. Housing will be in the form of an individual or shared apartment or house, or by providing the player with a stipend for housing costs.

Teams are not required to provide cars to all players but if they choose to, the car must be available to the player for the entire duration of the season.

Transfer Fees

New to the NWSL, teams are now permitted to pay transfer fees to acquire players outside the NWSL. Transfer fees are paid using allocation money and do not count against a team’s salary cap. There is no limit on the number of transfer fees paid per season, but teams must stay within the league’s allocation money limit.

Teams are also permitted to sell rights to players to teams outside the NWSL. When selling a player’s rights, teams may either retain the rights to the player within the NWSL or keep a portion of the transfer fee.

U.S. Allocated players may not be sold by teams.

Discovery List

Teams may have up to three players on their discovery lists at any given time, except for the period between the day after the NWSL Championship and the day before the first match of the following NWSL regular season. During that period, teams may have up to seven players on their discovery lists. Players can be removed from a team’s discovery list at any time. The discovery period is now perpetual, meaning there is no start or end date.

Players will automatically be removed from a team’s discovery list after they have been on the list for 365 days. Teams must wait 90 days before putting the player back on their list.

After a 30 day period, which starts the day following a player’s placement on a team’s discovery list, if another team submits a discovery request for the same player, the team with the player on their discovery list must submit a player agreement form to the league within 14 days of being notified by the NWSL of a competing discovery request.

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