It may not be the most exciting trade of the National Women’s Soccer League offseason, but it is groundbreaking all the same: The Chicago Red Stars announced Tuesday the club had traded away a draft pick in exchange for allocation money, a new mechanism for teams to pay players above the salary cap.
The Utah Royals acquired the No. 8 overall pick in Thursday’s college draft for an undisclosed amount of allocation money with sights set on specific players. The trade, which involves a spending mechanism but no players, is the first of its kind to be announced in the NWSL.
“With this pick in the first round we are able to select a player who can bring a more immediate impact to the squad this season, as well as to the team for many years to come,” Royals general manager Stephanie Lee said in a statement.
What the Red Stars plan to do with their allocation money is less clear — the club offered no hints when it announced the trade. But NWSL allocation money, which works similarly to Major League Soccer’s targeted allocation money, or TAM, offers plenty of options.
Only players who meet certain criteria will be eligible for allocation money, but the criteria is broad, including all active national team players who have made at least three appearances in 24 months, and any players who have proven themselves to be valuable on the world market with a salary of at least $50,000, the NWSL maximum. Veterans who have played at least five seasons in the NWSL can also have their salaries boosted with it.
The NWSL announced the introduction of allocation money in November for the 2020 season, and teams can purchase up to $300,000 worth of it, with the ability to trade for even more. Teams that miss the playoffs this year will also be entitled to an extra $100,000, sources have told Yahoo Sports.