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Scrapping the Designated Player Rule

Yes, I am suggesting exactly that. My complaints are different than most though. It isn't that I don't like the idea of 1, 2 or 3 great players residing on a given MLS side. It isn't because I think they are a huge risk, and too often don't contribute to the marketing of the team.

I want the rule abandoned because I don't think it is fairly applied (Galaxy and Donovan), and because it isn't being used to build the sport in America, and Canada.  With so few players brought along as DPs it shouldn't surprise that only Reyna and De Guzman have been/are native DPs. This is part of my problem, the domestic game needs its own stars, unless they are going to the top leagues, or top teams in second tier leagues and starting.

But MLS can't afford them under its current salary structure is the the most common response.

There's a way to change that, without blowing up the salary cap.

The key is a slight change in the parity driven system called Allocation, or Allocation dollars. In the past this system has been used to compensate teams for losing players (Edu, Altidore), in trades (Khano Smith), to pay more salary without a cap hit (DeRo).

It is in that last element that I wish to accelerate and amplify. Yes, this would lead to a partial slate of "haves" and "have nots," but only temporary. But it would also allow MLS teams to add higher quality players. The trick lies in the single entity structure of the league and its salary pool.

The change would be to allow teams to purchase allocation dollars on a two for one basis. One part of their purchase would be dollars that they get to pay in addition to the player's salary. That amount would be cap exempt and fully guaranteed. It would be the equal of an NFL signing bonus - bankable cash. The other part would go into the league's funds and escrow to be used to establish the cap for the next season for all teams. This would be a kind of luxury tax, but unlike baseball would work because the funds go directly to player salaries.

Example One: Ljungberg in 2010 - Since the DP has been eliminated, but Freddie has a contract the Sounders would have to pay the league 2M$. They would then get allocation dollars in order to pay Freddie the difference between his max player salary and his contracted value. The other 1M$ would go into an account earning minimal interest and then be divided and given to all 18 teams in the 2011 league (55k$)

Example Two: Red Bull New York gets all Cosmos on the League - trying to make huge splash in the world's toughest sports market Red Bull signs Henry, Viera, Ballack and Campbell for a total of 25M$ of allocation. Their 2010 team makes a strong run, but fails to win any major trophy as the team takes time to gel. Their 2011 competition though will  have every team much stronger every team will have nearly 1.4M$ dollars added to their cap figure paid from league coffers so even Kansas City and San Jose could afford the upgrades in quality.

Example Three: Seattle, LA, Houston, DC, Chicago, Toronto, Vancouver and Portland respond to RBNY - in attempts to keep up with Red Bull each signs players with allocation dollars. Sometimes it is young Americans like Adu, sometimes it would be young Brazilians prior to their big money deals in Europe,  others are older Americans, older Europeans. In all the eight clubs spend 36Million on allocations in 2011. In 2012 the salary cap would get a 2M$ boost for each team.

This program would need a level of transparency between the League and Union concerning the "base cap figure" which would have to be set at a percentage of revenue. I would suggest 40%, in order for the League to be able to run both Reserve and Academy programs. Yes, each year the overall cap would vary. Yes, this would make it difficult to run multi-year contracts, but for Free Agents both in the internal and external markets there would be a bidding war for their services, more cash to go around to MLS level talents, and generally high quality play.

What I have tried to do is balance the desires of fans (higher quality), the "haves" (ability to spend on their own product) and the League/"have nots" (parity and balance). With the single entity structure of MLS and its salary pool, this should be a version of luxury tax that would actually help the smaller revenue clubs compete. Lastly, I feel that by granting this would improve the level of play on the pitches of MLS increasing revenue from both TV and gate.

Thoughts on my flight of fancy?

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