Members of the Professional Football Referees Association (PSRA) – the trade union representing match officials in Major League Soccer — voted to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement Monday night.

The ratification of the CBA ends a month-long lockout that had seen MLS begin its season with substitute referees. The league’s usual set of officials will return to games this weekend.

“It’s been a difficult time for everyone as we worked to reach an agreement,” said Mark Geiger, general manager of the Professional Referee Organization (PRO), the MLS-funded body that administers professional refereeing in the United States and Canada that was. negotiating with PSRA. The two sides have traded barbs in the media in recent weeks and are said to have started far from negotiations.

The new deal runs through the end of the 2030 season and includes significant raises for referees and assistant referees, as well as video assistant referees. The financial specifics of the agreement are presented in a term sheet obtained from athletic, one whose authenticity was verified by a source informed of the contents of the new CBA.

“We thank the hundreds of officials in the US and Canada who stood in solidarity with us by showing their strength and professionalism,” PSRA president and chief negotiator Peter Manikowski said in a statement. “Together, we’ve earned much-needed improvements by demonstrating the value of having the best referees in Major League Soccer on the field.”

In his statement, MLS executive vice president of sports competition Nelson Rodriguez said: “We are pleased that this agreement provides the PRO with a strong and long-term partnership to continue the development and training of referees to make our referee even better .”

Basic salary

“Probationary referees,” officials who have less than two years of MLS experience, earned about $50,000 in base salary under the previous CBA. In 2024, those judges will see a 68% increase in their salary, making $85,150. By the end of the deal in 2030, that number rises to over $110,000.

MLS Referee Salary, New CBA

Counting matches referee gold

On trial





33650 dollars






39650 dollars













More experienced MLS referees will also see a significant increase in pay. A referee who officiated 200 games, for example, earned about $108,000 under the terms of the previous deal. That same judge’s salary will jump over $40,000 overnight, rising to $142,150 in 2024 and $182,470 through the end of the deal.

MLS Referee Salary, Percentage Change

Counting matches Ref gold hang AVAR

On trial

























MLS Referee Salary Increase in Dollars

Counting matches Ref gold hang AVAR

On trial






30,545 dollars

15642 dollars


4305 dollars




3667 dollars

5073 dollars



19265 dollars

5067 dollars

4573 dollars




6367 dollars

5523 dollars

Associate judges (ARs), who in 2023 earned about $16,000 in base salary, will receive an even larger percentage increase than judges. A full-time, non-probationary AR who has played in 100 MLS games, for example, will see his salary increase from $19,696 in 2023 to $37,150 this year. By the end of the deal, an officer with the same level of experience will earn $49,684.

Match fees, travel and accommodation

Match officials are also paid a “match fee” in addition to their basic salary. PSRA made modest gains on that front. In 2024, for example, referees and assistant referees earned $1,350 per game they worked. That number has gone to $1,500; VAR and AVAR are seeing similar-sized, percentage-wise increases.

The deal also provides referees with some measure of security: for the first time, MLS referees will be guaranteed a minimum of 15 match fees per year. The move was put in place to provide a safety blanket in the event of injury – under the previous CBA, an injured umpire would only be paid for the games in which they participated; if they got hurt early in the season, for example, and couldn’t come back, they’d lose that revenue stream almost entirely.

Payment of regular season games

role The old CBA The new CBA

Arbiter / AR









PSRA had earlier pushed for aggressive changes in travel and accommodation for its officials. The gains made there were modest at best, according to multiple sources briefed on the contents of the proposed CBA. Officials will fly first class for MLS’ “Decision Day” as well as the MLS playoffs, and won some minor concessions in scheduling flights for regular-season games .

What is the background here?

The previous CBA of PRO and PSRA, which had been in force since 2014, expired on January 15 of this year. The parties had a tentative agreement in place in mid-February, but PSRA’s membership overwhelmingly voted against the agreement, after which PRO shut them out.

In the weeks that followed, the two sides engaged in federally mediated negotiations that turned acrimonious at times, with both sides trading barbs in the media. Earlier this month, said MLS Commissioner Don Garber Athletics the league was “more than prepared” to use substitute umpires for as long as necessary, a comment that drew the ire of the PSRA, which accused Garber of using “anti-union tactics.”

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The lockout was a popular topic of discussion among MLS fans, especially on social media; Garber, however, said the league had done market research that showed the issue was of little concern to the league’s consumers.

MLS executives also suggested that the standard achieved by the league’s substitute referees was largely on par with their full-time teams, something that both the PSRA and the Major League Soccer Players’ Association publicly disputed. Several coaches around the league had publicly raised concerns about the quality of replacement referees in recent weeks.

MLS offered guidance to broadcast talent on Apple TV, its largest media rights partner, suggesting to the announcers and color commentators that viewers were not interested in the labor dispute and instructing them not to “labor” the point when it came to them discussed.

This wasn’t the first time Major League Soccer used substitute referees: In 2014, MLS officials were shut out by the league for the first two weeks of its season before agreeing to the soon-to-be official replacement deal.

(Photo: Andrew Katsampes/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

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