Football is not a matter of life or death, it is more important than that

Salary Cap

For some considerable time now the people who supposedly run football in this country have floated the idea of a salary cap for footballers. It is not new, and I believe it was the legendary Jimmy Hill who first opened the door on players wages when he campaigned to abolish the minimum wage back in the day. However the latest champion for this is the new Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis. This is how reported the story:

The Premier League needs to adopt a salary cap in a bid to achieve financial stability, according to Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis. Manchester City's spending since the close of last season has dominated the back pages as reports of astronomical fees and wages become commonplace.

With Chelsea and a cash-rich Manchester United also expected to open their chequebooks freely in the close-season, more heavy investment is anticipated from the top flight's biggest spenders. Arsenal remain determined to stay on an even keel financially and Gazidis has called for a greater responsibility from Premier League clubs.

"I think it is worth our while to investigate whether there are elements of the salary cap system, which they have in US NFL and baseball (sic), which would benefit football," Gazidis told The Guardian. "Clubs have a duty to provide more stability in our business models and some form of wage restraint is one element worth looking at. "There are many ways in which it could work."

It will not work, it will never work, that’s what I say. There are just so many reasons why. Let me list them out:

  • Football is a global game there are too many different impactors.
  • Salary caps may work in US sports but that is because they are closed and are only played in one country.
  • If the premiership introduced a Cap, then all the top players would fly off to Italy, Spain, Germany or even Russia, because they would not be capped.
  • We live in a free market and so players can get what they want.
  • It was the clubs who paid these wages in the first place and they created the whole issue.
  • If the rule is that a club can only use a set proportion of turnover, then clubs will manipulate their numbers to allow for higher wages.
  • A salary cap will not close the gap between the haves and have not’s.

At the end of the day, if clubs feel they need to cap and/or reduce their wage bill then it must be up to the individual club, however if one club does do this then it must be prepared for the negatives that will absolutely follow. Arsenal have lived with the downside of having a strict wage structure now for many years. Every summer their players are tapped up, sold for less than they should be because the player wants out, and it is always from the same hand full of clubs. Imagine the new President of Real Madrid being told he must have a salary cap, he has just spent £200m on new players, with another £100m to go, he is paying one of those player £200k per week! So is that where the cap will start.

Of course Real Madrid also bring up another issue, one that works opposite to a cap, it is they who this week started, yet again, the debate of a European Super League, one to run along side the national competitions. If that was to happen, those 20 clubs would see a huge increase in their turnover, all other clubs would see a massive drop, but those richer clubs would have to have the best player and pay massive amounts to get and keep them.

With the idea of a salary cap, it may work in certain other sports, it may also sound sensible and even morally right, but this world is neither sensible or moral, and the world of the beautiful game even less so, for it is built on emotion, ego, ambition and passion and there are just things you cannot put a cap on. Sorry Ivan this one will not happen, this is not the US of A.


© 2008 Paul Kavanagh. All rights reserved.