SBJ/November 6 - 12, 2006/This Weeks News

Soccer players bank licensing checks for later

Red Bulls union rep Steve Jolley
says the availability of information
is good for players.

As the youngest professional sports union representing players from one of the country’s least-lucrative sports, the Major League Soccer Players’ Union produces one of the smallest LM-2 filings.

That fact, however, has not made the new filing requirements any less laborious, according to union general counsel Jon Newman.

“Within the labor movement it’s viewed as a way to substantially increase the regulatory burden and costs on labor unions,” Newman said. “It would be nice to see management open their books in the same way.”

Like the National Basketball Players Association (see story, page 34), the MLSPU generates most of its revenue by selling its licensing rights directly to the league. In 2005, the union received $775,000 in licensing revenue, $350,000 of which was delayed from 2004, Newman said. The league paid four subsequent fees of $106,250 for licensing rights.

It’s only the third year the MLSPU has received licensing rights. Prior to that, the league shared limited licensing revenue with players. Now, those funds are not paid out to players but rather are being amassed in preparation for the next collective-bargaining agreement talks three years from now, Newman said.

The 336 players who are members of the union pay dues monthly of $20 to $70 depending on their respective salaries. Players only pay dues while under contract, so players on average are paying $210 annually in dues, according to the filing.

While Newman expressed frustration with the new filing requirements, New York Red Bulls defender and union representative Steve Jolley has celebrated the availability of the new information.

Financial overview  
Total assets $591,899
Total liabilities $39,896
Net assets $552,003
Total receipts $850,709
Total disbursements $275,338
Top executive:  
Bob Foose, Executive Director $147,500*
* Listed gross salary disbursement
Note: Data for 12-month period ended Dec. 31, 2005
Source: MLSPU annual report

“I don’t know if the NFLPA are saying the same thing,” he said, “but for us, in our infancy, this is a good thing.”

The MLSPU was founded in April 2003. Bob Foose, its executive director, earns the least of any executive director at the major professional sports unions examined in this report. His salary was $147,500 in 2005, according to the LM-2 filing.

The union made monthly payments during 2005 ranging from $6,900 to $8,202 to Newman’s firm (Sherman, Dunn, Cohen, Leifer & Yellig PC) for legal representation, the filing states.

The lesser financial standing of the MLSPU compared with its union counterparts in baseball, basketball and football, is largely the reason for the shorter filing. Certain expenditures are not required to be listed on the LM-2 if less than $5,000, Newman said, adding that many of the union’s expenses fall below that threshold.

All MLSPU business matters will be in focus next week, when team union representatives meet formally for the first time in Dallas on Nov. 13.

It’s a meeting Jolley has eagerly awaited since his on-field season ended last month.

“My general idea is that our leadership is trying their best,” he said. “Do we need to get better in all aspects of our union? Obviously.”

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