With Premier League wages spiralling out of control, is it time for a salary cap to be implemented?
Since the Premier League (and the Champions League) was created in 1992, football has seen the rich get richer and the poor get......well, the poor usually just go into administration.
Comments of “the best league in the world” or “it's tough to call this year” are often associated with the Premier League and whilst they are debates to be had for a different day, there have only ever been five winners of the League in 22 seasons.
||AVERAGE YEARLY PAY OF PREMIER LEAGUE PLAYER
*figures (except 2013-14) taken from an article on sportingintelligence.com
*2013-14 figures taken from an article on the UK Eurosport website
Over in America, where the salary cap (as well as other differences such as the player draft and the trade system) is a major part of the sporting structure, things look a lot different. Of the four major sports, the NBA has seen the least number of Champions since 1992 with 8 teams winning the title whilst the NFL has seen 14 different teams win the Super Bowl since 1992. Now, I'm not saying that this is solely down to the salary cap. However, the ability to allow teams to compete on the same wage structure will certainly play some part in providing a wider range of Championship winners.
What is a Salary Cap?
In its simplest form, a salary cap is a limit that is placed on the amount of money that a team can spend on player salaries. There are many variations of the cap and they are widely used in American sports and also in rugby.
My most common experiences of a salary cap come from the major American sports and each sport runs the cap in a slightly different way. For example, in baseball, they allow teams to go over the cap limit. However, if teams do breach the salary cap then they are required to pay a luxury tax. This allows the richest teams (such as the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers) to continue paying over inflated wages to try and sign the best players as the tax that they pay can easily be covered by things such as merchandise sales.
Over in the NFL, they operate a salary floor. Teams aren't allowed to go over the cap without incurring massive penalties such as loss of draft picks (a crucial component of building a roster) whilst they also must spend a set amount on salaries as a minimum (known as the salary floor). This stops greedy owners from raking in more income through paying lower salaries but the harsh penalties for breaking the cap stops the richer franchises from paying even bigger salaries to try and fund instant success. I think the NFL cap is one of the most well balanced around and is a key reason why the talent pool in the NFL is spread across so many teams enabling a lot of them to have a chance at winning
Helping the National Team
There has been a lot of talk recently about how to help the England team perform better on the World Stage and the idea of allowing the big clubs to have a 'B' team play in the league pyramid is one of the suggestions. We've also seen clubs like Southampton decimated by the top clubs in this offseason whilst the first decent season a young English player has, usually sees them snapped up by a big club and left on the bench or the reserves before finally escaping at the end of their contract four years down the line when their career has effectively been ruined. Scott Sinclair and Jack Rodwell are two examples that spring to mind. Both had the potential to represent England in Brazil until Manchester City snapped them up for a whopping fee and exorbitant wages. With a salary cap in force, would City have used up vital cap space on two players who quite clearly had little chance of ever making it into the first team on a regular basis? Maybe they would, but I think there is a good chance that they wouldn't and that would have allowed both Sinclair and Rodwell the opportunity to continue their career and perhaps progress to the World Cup squad.
Could a Salary Cap work in the Premier League?
There are many problems around a salary cap in the Premier League and it would take a lot of work and effort involved to get it right. The main stumbling block is really around promotion and relegation. They don't deal with that in the US but if a team was promoted to the Premier League and had a wage bill greater than the cap, would they be required to reduce their bill straight away? If so, it could potentially weaken their squad when the norm for a promoted team is to look at strengthening.
A simple solution would be to implement a cap throughout the league structure but is it really practical to make a part time club lower down the pyramid comply to a salary cap?
Another problem would be the rest of the footballing world. Could the Premier League compete with La Liga and the Bundesliga to name just two if those leagues weren't subject to a cap?
I'm interested to get your views on whether you think a salary cap could work in English Football and whether it would prove beneficial for the National team?
Do you follow a league where a salary cap is implemented? Does it work and is it better and more competitive than before the cap was introduced?
Please feel free to leave any comments below
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