Cookie Consent by Free Privacy Policy Generator Skip to content

Union referees will return to work, PRO ends lock out

New CBA gives officials significant raises and runs through 2030.

Last Updated
2 min read
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Union MLS referees will return to work this week after PRO and the PSRA agreed to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement which was ratified on Monday, ending a five-week lockout.

In a statement announcing the agreement, MLS executive Nelson Rodriguez thanked PRO management and the replacement officials for working “selflessly” during the lockout while also pointing to a large investment in the union officials:

“Major League Soccer has some of the best match officials in the world, and PRO’s new CBA with PSRA recognizes that by committing substantial resources to the referee program – an investment that ranks among the highest for any global soccer league. We’re pleased this agreement provides PRO with a strong, long-term partnership to continue to develop and train the referees to make our officiating even better. 

“We thank PRO and the match officials who’ve worked selflessly since the start of the 2024 MLS season. Many of these officials were already advancing toward becoming PRO match officials, and their participation provided important on-field experience, which will continue to benefit PRO, MLS and all the other leagues in the future.”

The Athletic obtained details of the new agreement, which backs up Rodriguez’s assertion while also highlighting some significant wins for the PSRA.

The biggest is in terms of pay, where the least experienced center referees will see an increase of about 68% in the first year of the deal, going from $50,000 to $85,150. Referees at all levels of experience will see similar raises, with the highest paid officials now getting $165,150 in base pay.

Assistant referees, who had previously made as little as $16,000 in base pay, will all make at least $30,150, with the most experienced topping out at $45,650.

There were also more modest gains in how much each official gets per match, going from $1,350 to $1,500 for on-field officials; VARs going from $985 to $1,100; and AVARs going from $450 to $550. Unlike the previous CBA, which had no safeguard in case of injury, the new deal includes a minimum of 15 match fees.

Although PSRA had been seeking significant improvements to travel arrangements, they settled for more modest gains that apparently mostly focused on scheduling. PRO was also able to get a longer-term contract than PSRA had originally wanted, with this deal extending to 2030.

With the new deal now in place, several new rules will also be implemented. The most notable of those will be a rule that gives an injured player 15 seconds to return to play or leave field.