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NWSL announces changes to salary cap, wage structure

2019 NWSL Championship

CARY, NC - OCTOBER 27: Merritt Mathias #11 of the North Carolina Courage celebrates with teammates Lynn Williams #9 and Samantha Mewis #5 after a game between Chicago Red Stars and North Carolina Courage at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park on October 27, 2019 in Cary, North Carolina. The North Carolina Courage defeated the Chicago Red Stars 4-0 to win the 2019 NWSL Championship. (Photo by Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images).

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The NWSL, whose 2019 season just concluded on Sunday, announced sweeping changes to its salary cap and wage structure, including implementation of workarounds similar to those in Major League Soccer.

First and foremost, the league boasts a 19% increase in the salary cap for the 2020 season, set now at $650,000, plus increases to the league minimum and maximum salaries, upped to $20,000 and $50,000 respectively.

In addition, the league announced the institution of an allocation system that would allow teams to buy down salaries, helping them get under the cap and allowing them to sign players for above the league maximum.

There are restrictions to the allocation rules that are intended to help increase the distribution of salary increases rather than see teams pouring the extra wiggle room into one or two big-name players. Teams are not allowed to use allocation money on USWNT or Canadian National Team designated players, but can only use it on players who qualify through various determining factors such as national team caps, NWSL awards, or NWSL tenure. Some on social media speculated that this system seems tailored to keeping Australian international goalkeeper Sam Kerr in the league, since it is restricted from use on U.S. internationals.

The league also announced that teams will be permitted to acquire players via transfer fees, a new addition to the league signaling a stronger financial viability. Still, there are restrictions. Teams must use allocation money to purchase players, and cannot sell players that have U.S. National Team designation.

There are also changes to the housing and auto assistance programs as well as new details to the discovery system. You can see the complete NWSL release with all the new rules and regulations here.

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