Call it Major League Soccer’s version of Ontario’s Sunshine List, the annual release that reveals the number of public sector employees earning more than $100,000 per year.
Tax-payers are typically outraged, demanding answers as to how and why some public sector employees are pulling in six figures.
The MLS Players’ Union acts in a similar manner.
On Thursday, it released all 555 of its players’ salaries, an initiative that gives players, fans and media the ammunition they need to rail against the league’s unbalanced pay structure.
“Obviously you can see the difference in pay,” Toronto FC fullback Mark Bloom said. “There’s a wide gap. You can see every player is underpaid. Hopefully that will get fixed and that will be addressed.”
More accurately, most MLSers are underpaid.
While TFC Designated Player Michael Bradley is set to make $6.5 million this season, Bloom is on a near-entry level deal making around $50,000.
“Those figures, you can’t read too much into them,” Bloom said. “You get worried about the business side of it and your head is going to be out of the game. I’m just focusing on what’s (on the field).”
That said, he acknowledged — with a smile — that he glanced at the MLSPU’s salary list.
“The business model is brilliant for MLS,” TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen said. “(The league) has grown so well. But, yeah, I think they’ll address (the pay gap). It’s a big question mark on everybody’s lips. As a coach, I agree with you. Those players deserve as much as they can get.”
Major League Soccer’s collective bargaining agreement expires after this season. Further to that point, the expectation is that the league’s salary cap ($3.1 million) will receive a significant bump so bottom-end players won’t have to eat rice and beans.
“The one thing I’d say is I’ve been in both camps,” Nelsen added. “I was on $24,000 when I joined the league (in 2001). You’ve got to earn it.
“Me, personally, I always believe the market determines what you get. If those guys at the lower end perform better, they get paid better.”
How much better remains to be seen, especially in Bloom’s case.
After joining TFC late last season, Bloom has started all four of TFC’s matches in 2014. He’s a key contributor among a host of players who are paid more to provide much less — something a former MLSer mentioned on Twitter this week.
“So MLS salaries were published,” said Herculez Gomez, who last played in MLS in 2009. “Never an easy day for anyone, very uncomfortable.”
Nelsen said the league’s annual salary release won’t disrupt his dressing room.
“It does if you’ve got bad characters,” Nelsen said. “If you’ve got guys who are insecure about themselves or are a wee bit jealous, yeah. A lot of teams have problems with that.”