MLS Re Entry Procedure: Not Exactly Free Agency, But an Enormous Step forward.

The much-maligned Ridge Mahoney of creaky old Soccer America, has gotten his hands on what is described as a "working document" from the negotiations between the MLSPU and the league regarding the "Re Entry" process, which was the source of a good deal of the bitterness in the late CBA negotiations.

At the time the CBA agreement was announced, in actuality very little had actually been agreed to other than salary structure.

Not that it was about the money or anything.

Reporters, bloggers and my esteemed colleagues across the BigSoccer universe kept asking questions and digging for details that, it is becoming increasingly clear, simply didn't exist.

It says a great deal about the seriousness and good faith that both sides brought to the table - a modicum of obligatory last minute nastiness aside - that the process has continued apace on several fronts, not least of which is the Phoenix-like re-emergence of the MLS Reserve League, about which details continue to trickle out in dribs and drabs.

Not because they were being kept secret but rather because they genuinely didn't exist.

Likewise the re-entry procedure which, along with the legendary if largely mythical $12,000 Salary of Shame, was the cause - rightfully one has to agree - of the perception that MLS was largely dedicated to making sure veteran players had no leverage whatsoever in their dealings with ownership.

The biggest change seems to be in the area of definitions; previously, a player was bound to a team that made him a "reasonable" offer. Unfortunately, it was left to the teams and the league to decide just what was "reasonable" and they usually defined it as "anything above the starting wage for overnight shelf stockers at Pick 'n Pay".

Fairness - and of course fair use - doesn't allow me to simply clip and paste, and in any case the stuff is already on line; GO AND READ IT YOURSELF.

However, some notable highlights:

A. “Bona Fide Offer” is an offer from MLS to an Out of Contract Player that meets the following minimum conditions: (1) for “25/4 players,” contains a first-year salary at least equal to the player’s 2010 annual base salary and for “30/8 players,” contains a first-year salary at least 5% greater than the player’s 2010 annual base salary; (2) a term of 1+1+1; (3) option year salaries that increase by at least 5% each year; (4) performance bonuses that are at least the same as the performance bonuses in the previous year of the player’s contract;

There will apparently be two separate levels of draft, conducted in early December, with the players involved offered for selection at either their current "option decline price" as defined in their league contract or, for players out of contract, at their individual "Bone Fide Offer" amount.

Be advised that it's still a long, long, LONG ways from free agency.

But it does provide some leverage, some flexibility and - perhaps most importantly - some control for the players over their careers.

Which is what they said they wanted.