Will Spending Ever Decrease?

Now comes the time for the Premier League, European Leagues and UEFA to put their heads together and work out the best method to regulate spending. Financial Fair Play was introduced by UEFA in 2011, which essentially stops clubs from spending more than they bring in. Money brought in includes prize money for winning tournaments and gate money, with money going out including transfers and wages. If a team fails to comply, they can be fined or banned from European competition.

However some of the richer sides, such as Manchester City whose owner Sheikh Mansour is worth over £20 billion, are able to rely income like on massive sponsorship deals to make sure they don’t overspend. Despite spending over £100 million and bringing in just £10 million in the 2013 summer transfer market, it is unlikely that they will get reprimanded by UEFA.

Another idea that has been considered, more so by the English FA than UEFA or any other European FA, is the Salary Cap. This system is already implemented in the MLS (Major League Soccer) in the USA, with no player able to earn more than $368,750 a year (approximately £225,000) and no team able to spend more than $2.95million (approximately £1.8 million). The exception to this system is the Designated Player (DP) rule, which enables a franchise to pay up to three players above the individual salary cap, with it only counting as $368,750 towards the team salary cap.

The salary cap also exists in many other sports, including the four major “American Sports” leagues (NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB), and Rugby League in England and Australia. The rule in the Super League in England has been much criticised in recent years for not being high enough and causing top class players, such as Sam Tomkins, to go to the National Rugby League (NRL) in Australia where the cap is higher. In some cases, such as with Sam’s brother Joel Tomkins and New Zealander Sonny Bill Williams, players change codes to play Rugby Union where the caps are considerably higher.

In the Super League, a team can only pay £1.65 million to the top 25 earners within the squad, whereas in the NRL a team can spend up to $5.85 million (approximately £3.26 million) to the top 25. This doesn’t stop the cap being breached in either league though, but it is far more common in Australia with seven teams being fined in July this year. The last Super League breach was by Wigan Warriors in 2007, although new Salford City Reds owner Marwan Koukash claimed he’s willing to break the cap if it isn’t raised.

To get an idea of whether this could work in the Premier League, I asked a group of New York Red Bulls fans, an MLS side, on Facebook about money in football in general, and whether the salary cap could work. The results were not only similar, they were quite unsurprising.

43% of the respondents said that they thought TV Rights were a bigger factor in the amount of money in football, 43% said they believed it was down to Foreign Owners whilst the remaining 14% said they thought it was down to both equally. I also asked them about whether they thought there was too much in money football, which provided me with a greater variety of answers because they were given the option to expand on their thoughts.

One of the respondents agreed that there was too much money in football, and went on to say: “Money will always have a pull on the game. But it is at the point where players move for money not to a great team that suits. There are so many examples of local Australian players going to the Middle East and Asian leagues to pick up their last pay cheques instead of helping the game in Australia.” However they also argued that the money is good for the game in certain aspects, saying: “Look at Tottenham, sold Gareth Bale for 90mil or whatever it was. They have since bought an entire team for that much.

As for the salary cap system, another respondent said that it works in the MLS because it provides parity and makes the playing field more level: “There is a limit to the amount of dominance you can have, which is vital. In La Liga and Bundesliga, Barcelona, Madrid and Bayern Munich all have a duopoly and monopoly of their respective leagues.” But when it comes to the Premier League, the overwhelming reaction was that it was too late for it to be implemented. One respondent said: “It is too far into the life of the league to make such a big change. In the current age of the mercenary footballer, many would most likely leave elsewhere for more money if they could get it.”, whilst another said: “No teams would be able to make it work at this point.

This interview with Clarke Carlisle, retired Premier League defender and former chairman of the Professional Footballers’ Association, on BBC HARDtalk encapsulates the financial aspect of football perfectly. (Video courtesy of YouTube channel News via BBC HARDtalk)


One Response to Will Spending Ever Decrease?

  1. Pingback: Just where has all the money in football come from? | Blogging along

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