The gulf between rich and poor clubs has never been greater. The amount of money circulating in the game has never been greater. The amount of players instantly becoming multi millionaires and buying fast cars and large mansions have never been greater. However, more sadly, the amount of clubs, especially ones with a lot of prestige and history behind them, going under have never been greater.
There’s always something wrong in seeing a football club, especially one which gets packed houses, struggle to break even and compete for a title. Just as the amount of money circulating has increased, the cost of staying in the game has increased as well.
Such large increases in wages put smaller, less rich clubs at a serious disadvantage in terms of challenging for titles and championships. As a result, many of these clubs have been forced to take financial gambles to be able to attract good enough players to remain competitive. This has backfired for some clubs such as Leeds United who in the space of 5 years went from being in the Champions League semi final to the English third division.
The question remains, can this wage spiral be controlled so that it no longer harms the smaller clubs? The answer is yes, and in football it’s being used in just 2 countries in the world: the USA and Australia. Both Major League Soccer and A-League used what is known as a salary cap, which is a limit as to how much a club can spend on players’ wages on a yearly basis.
The main advantage of such a system is that it ensures that each team is competitive despite their revenue and profits. It ensures parity and equity for the players and keeps the fans on the edge of their seats when it comes to challenging for the title as no one is shoo-in.
The major disadvantage of having a salary cap system in place is that it becomes very difficult for a club to retain its players. As a result, championship-winning teams rarely do stay together for another season. This is exactly what happened when Melbourne Victory won the 2006/07 in dominating fashion. The exodus of various players led to Victory having a disastrous season in 2007/08. The salary cap is an even greater disadvantage in football especially if other leagues do not have a salary cap themselves. As a result, the best players and talent will be taken away from leagues with salary caps, leaving fans with the leftovers.
Nevertheless, the risk of losing talent is not greater than the risk of losing clubs forever. While it may be a tragedy for clubs to lose star players due to a salary cap, it will surely ensure that fans still have a club to support.