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Explained: NWSL salary cap expansion and allocation money elimination

When is $2.75M not double $1.375M? In the NWSL! Let’s get nerdy!

Photo Copyright Amber Searls for USA TODAY Sports

Six-figure salaries becoming the norm for the National Women’s Soccer League’s best players marks some serious progress by an entity that launched just over a decade ago with a minimum salary that barely topped $6,000.

Thursday’s announcement by the NWSL that each team’s salary cap will increase in 2024, and the subsequent confirmation that allocation money can no longer be purchased, marks another turning point in an ever-evolving league. Each of those news items — along with the expansion of U-18 roster spots and a cap on transfer fees — requires historical subtext and fine print to truly understand.

As is a time-honored tradition in a league committed to Byzantine mechanisms (credit here: removing allocation money actually simplifies things in the future): let’s get into the weeds and get nerdy.

So, the salary cap doubled year over year?!

No, not really. The salary cap for each team in 2024 is $2.75 million. Last year’s salary cap was $1.375 million, so looking at that in black and white would lead one to believe the number doubled.

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