EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – In response to a United Soccer League (USL) proposal that would drastically cut player wages for the rest of the 2020 campaign, including those of El Paso Locomotive FC, the USL Players Union issued its own counterproposal on Tuesday.
Sources tell KTSM 9 Sports the league’s initial proposal stated that as long as USL was on hiatus due to COVID-19, all players would be paid $1,500 per month, before taxes. If the season does return, the league asked for pay reductions in increments of 20%.
In a report published by The Athletic, any salary higher than $4,000 per month could be reduced up to 80%, after the first $1,000 if the player was provided housing; if a player was not provided housing by the club, any salary higher than $4,300 per month could be shrunk as much as 80% after the first $1,300. According to a source, many Locomotive FC players are provided a housing stipend by the club.
Perhaps the biggest kicker: if the league’s 2020 season is canceled before October 1, the players would only continue to get paid at the reduced rate for 30 more days.
The USLPA counterproposal issued on Tuesday had some big changes. Players with salaries of $2,000 per month or less would continue to receive their full pay for their entire 2020 contract. Players making over $2,000 per month could see their salaries slashed by up to 10%, beginning June 15 through the end of their contract.
The counterproposal also states that if clubs want to continue paying their players their full salary, they are welcome to do so. It asks that players continue to receive payment through the end of their signed contracts, not at a date set by the league. In addition, the USLPA is asking the league to provide some financial relief to clubs to help keep them afloat during COVID-19.
Also included in the counterproposal was a league-wide minimum salary of $20,000, to be agreed upon by all clubs and instituted before the start of the 2021 season. Sources estimated that the average salary in the USL ranges between $25,000 and $30,000, but some players make far less than that, as budgets range widely between teams. The minimum salary number would ensure every player a more manageable living wage.
Any agreement the league and players come to would have to be voted on and ratified by a majority of the league’s players.
SocTakes was the first to report the USLPA counterproposal on Monday before it went public.
Sources also told KTSM on Tuesday that the USLPA feels as though the league is making the players seem to be unwilling to take a pay cut, thus making them the scapegoat if the season is eventually canceled. It was made clear that the players firmly want the season to continue if and when it is deemed safe to do so. They are also willing to take salary reductions, “as long as it doesn’t make players go hungry or have to move out of their apartments.”
USL’s governing body responded to the USLPA proposal on Tuesday afternoon, saying in part, “We appreciate the sentiment of #StandWithThePlayers, understand its importance and look forward to – on behalf of our clubs and their owners – continuing discussions around both short-term economic relief as well as the larger collective bargaining process.” The full statement can be found below.
Players around USL reacted to the news on Twitter on Tuesday, including some current and former Locomotive players, using the hashtag #StandWithThePlayers.
El Paso Locomotive FC is owned by MountainStar Sports Group. Team officials confirmed to KTSM last week that all players and staff had been receiving their full allotted pay since the league went on hiatus in March. Sources stressed to KTSM that MountainStar Sports Group is not at the root of the issue.
Although the season remains suspended, Locomotive FC players continue to train in small groups at their training facility in west El Paso, as permitted by the league in their latest training moratorium.
Locomotive FC officials declined to comment on the USLPA’s counterproposal.