On November 3, 2023, the United Soccer League and United Soccer League Players Association (USLPA) announced they have reached agreement on and ratified the historic first Collective Bargaining Agreement for USL League One. The USL Players Association and the League One Board of Governors both ratified the five-year agreement this week; it is effective immediately and runs through December 2027. This follows the historic initial Collective Bargaining Agreement for the USL Championship (the league a rung above League One), which was established and implemented in 2021.
The League One CBA is the first of its kind for a professional third-division men’s soccer league in the Americas and defines the standards by which players are signed and employed. Similar to the USL Championship CBA which began in October 2021, the League One CBA establishes a minimum compensation structure and new standards for player contracts, per diem rates and appearances. The CBA also includes new requirements for working condition standards and grievance procedures.
Prince Lobel Partner Steven H. Gans was a member of the team representing the Players Association. He notes, “Once again, it has been an honor to help forge this notable and unique labor agreement in the history of American pro soccer. I am particularly proud of the players who served on and contributed so much to the negotiation team.”
In an article on the USL Network, USLPA Acting Executive Director Connor Tobin says, “We are beyond proud to have achieved another groundbreaking labor agreement in the history of American professional soccer. This agreement is significant progress in terms of defining what it means to be a professional soccer player in this country. The terms of this Agreement not only significantly advance player protection, compensation, and working conditions for all League One players, but it creates a platform from which the league can grow.”
Attorney Gans, head of Prince Lobel’s Soccer Law practice and the firm’s Sports and Entertainment practice, represents professional and youth soccer clubs, leagues and organizations in the sport in a variety of matters, including employment issues, financing and merger and acquisition matters, corporate governance, dispute resolution, and the drafting and negotiation of a variety of agreements, including employment contracts, athletic facility development agreements, strategic partnership agreements, sponsorship agreements, equipment supplier contracts, leases, and operational and revenue sharing agreements. Steve has also conducted several investigations in the soccer world, at the request of universities, leagues and clubs. He has also represented players and coaches, as well as an NCAA athletic conference. Steve was named one of Soccer’s Top Personalities of 2017 by Soccer America magazine, and he is commonly called upon by leading media to comment on issues within the sport, including the New York Times, Sports Business Journal, Sports Illustrated, the Washington Post, The Athletic, Soccer America, the Boston Globe and the London Evening Standard.