You won’t find many Toronto FC fans who would argue that the club knows how to fill three Designated Player spots, let alone four. But Bill Manning and Co. might be grappling with that new reality soon.
A spreading report suggests that Major League Soccer is considering adding a fourth DP slot to its rulebook from next season onwards. The initial report originated from New England Revolution beat writer Caleb Pongrantz and gained traction over the weekend.
Now, Vancouver-based Canadian Soccer Daily contributor Har Johal reports that a final decision about whether to add a fourth DP slot for 2024 will be decided at the league’s board of governors meeting on December 14. Will Forbes of MLS Moves adds that some club owners are trying to push back against the idea of adding a fourth DP, while several others are strongly in favour. Which club owners want to vote in which direction have not been confirmed, but it’s easy to guess some of them.
If this rule passes, it may as well be called The Miami Rule.
Inter Miami already have Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets, and Jordi Alba on the books (and somehow also carried Josef Martinez last season) and are reportedly keen on adding the likes of Luis Suárez. Alba was not actually a DP in Florida, with the third slot alongside Messi and Busquets currently being occupied by Gregore heading into 2024.
If David Beckham, Jorge Mas, and Co. want to add more superstar power, they’ll have to either get creative with their budget or wait until the league changes the rules for them.
The Designated Player rule, informally known around the time of its introduction as ‘The Beckham Rule’ in recognition of the player who caused it all to happen, has been pivotal in attracting global stars to MLS. But it’s fair to say some clubs have used it better than others.
File TFC under “other,” in that regard. The club so mismanaged their financial waters that the phenomenal amount of money spent on bringing in Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi left no room for a third DP, with Jonathan Osorio elevated to that status in the spring to even the Canadian’s own surprise.
High on the to-do list for Manning, Jason Hernandez, and John Herdman this offseason is working out how best to accommodate and approach that third Designated Player slot, although given the amount that Osorio is earning it would be hard to buy that down with TAM and GAM. Adding a fourth DP for next year… well, that would make things a whole different kind of interesting.