Thursday, January 24, 2008

MLS changes rules to allow some charter flights

It might seem like a minor rule change, but it could be the start of something much bigger. MLS has changed their rule regarding chartered flights. Previously, clubs were forced to fly commercial for league matches. If there was a special reason, the team could submit a request to the league office for permission to fly charter, but most of the time, the league declined out of fear that it would give that team an advantage. Starting this year, each club will be able to charter up to 4 legs during the season.

So why is this news? Because it is another step towards allowing teams to spend their own money, i.e., stepping away from forced parity. Don't get me wrong, parity was very much needed during the first decade of MLS and is still a relevant concept, but there are places where losing the rules will do a lot for the league.

If a team wants to take on the added cost of flying their players on a rented plane instead of waiting in line at Southwest, why shouldn't they? I'm sure it makes the players happier and since it gets them where they need to go on their own timeframe, it might even help the play on the pitch. Also, if the league wants to start landing more of the bigger talent in the world, I would think telling them that they get to fly coach on US Air is not a big selling point.

This is a good step by MLS and one that I fully support.

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