Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Football: The Cap No Player Wants

More and more stories are breaking about the money in football. So is it time to introduce regulations such as salary caps and transfer fee limits?

Manchester City's owners are reportedly willing to spend $1billion in their first year of tenure. Liverpool are in debts of up to £350 million. Add to this the astronomical wages and transfer sums flying around the footballing world, and it sounds like a good idea.

Football could follow Rugby Union and introduce a salary cap. Which would stop teams offering large wages to sign players, hopefully leading to more footballing based transfer decisions by players and could also help to reduce footballers colossal wages. Salary caps could also help teams to keep overall costs down and stop teams spending money they don't have.

The big question is, should every team have the same salary cap of should it be a percentage of their income?

If every team had an equal salary cap it would increase parity between teams, but there is such a vast difference in teams wage budgets (compare Burnley and Chelsea for example) it would be difficult to draw an even line.

A percentage of a teams income would have greater rewards to the more successful teams and may be a greater incentive to do well in domestic and European competitions. However that is likely to lead to an even bigger monopoly of the 'big four' as they will have the large sums of money from the Champions League to spend on wages, reducing the competitiveness of the league.

To be successful the salary cap would have to be introduced across Europe, as if only one league were to introduce it, clubs from other countries would be able to offer higher wages and the best players would leave, which could have devastating impacts. Another problem with applying a salary cap across Europe is that the amount of money in the leagues vary dramatically as well as the fact that different countries have varying rates of tax that would impact the final wages that players receive.

A limit on transfer fees could also be introduced, either the amount spent on one player or the total amount spent in one season. The same problems of how to decide the amount - percentage or a fixed number - still stand. Also with such large amounts of money likely to be included exchange rates would also have to be considered otherwise teams paying via Euros may be able to get more for their money than the English clubs using pounds, or vice versa.

Although it will be difficult to implement any regulation, with all leagues and UEFA needing to come to an agreement, as well as the issues mentioned above. Regulations could benefit football greatly by reducing clubs debts and increasing the competition within leagues and I think it is needed before the money in football spirals out of control.