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How a Salary Cap could hurt English Football

Not making enough money? Want players to stop making more than you? Want to stop paying ridiculous weekly wages? Just push for a salary cap or wage freeze and you could get it.

Reading Captain Jobi McAnuff feels that players wages should be capped. He seems to think that playing players over 200,000 is ridiculous. West Ham chairman David Gold wants a wage freeze as well.

There has been a lot of discussion over the past week by people either not making 200,000 pounds a week or paying players over 100,000 pounds a week (Andy Carroll) for the Premier League to institute some sort of salary cap where teams can only pay “X” amount per week wages to teams. Talking about killing the goose that lays the golden egg,

Jobi McAnuff’s statement well come from good intentions, but Reading (or any other team) are willing to pay him 200,000 pounds. They are willing to pay him what they think he is worth. Keep in mind that Mr. McAnuff is 31 years old, and really never even been considered to be ever even thought about having a position warming the bench to a starter on England’s national team, but that his time in the Premier League has been incredibly short. And while he may captain a newly promoted side, he is not on level of any of top class EPL midfielders, so why should his words receive a column in the Daily Mirror?

He has complained that football is getting too expensive for the average fan to go and watch, which is true. But nobody is being forced against their will to pay over the odds prices to go and watch their favourite team on the weekend, that is the beauty of living in a free society. If you cannot afford to watch Reading play Chelsea, you do not have to.

Never mind the fact that Reading FC (the team that pays Jobi McAnuff’s salary) has granted Platinum status for games against the usual suspects (Man U, Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs). If you are truly a fan of Reading or West Ham (and chairman David Gold) why not just watch them play against Wigan or Norwich (lower rated games)? You are still getting the chance to watch your team play.

Could jealously or buyers remorse be a factor in desiring a Premier League wage freeze? Could Jobi McAnuff have sour grapes in that he is not being offered over the top wages? Could David Gold be upset that now he is in the Premier League he may have to pay over the top wages in order to stay in the Premier League? Possibly. But bitterness and resentment are not reasons to now call for a salary cap type system, because it will hurt the Premier League in the long run.

As I refer to much of time, I am Canadian. Which means on top of being a fan of football I am also a fan of the “Big 4” North American sports, three of which have a salary cap system in place (hockey, basketball and American football). These are sports that always seem to be in some sort of labour dispute between players and owners, usually with the owners winning and the players paying the price.

The reason is simple in North America, where are these players going to go? They could play in Europe for hockey and basketball although the would not come close to earning the wages that they could in North America. Baseball players can go to Japan, and American football players are pretty much up a creek because most will not come to Canada and play which is the extent to competitive football in North America. Players in England though have a choices. They can head to Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia or even China if wage restrictions are imposed, which in turn could suck the life out of English football.

The problem that Jobi McAnuff fails to realize that no matter what wage restrictions are placed on clubs in England, the best will always earn top dollar. Your elite players such as Aguero, van Persie and Rooney will always make well above the average and teams will still continue to pay that. What teams will not continue to pay is high wage demands for mid level or even sub par players, thus those players could eventually be forced out of the Premier League, or hope to gain a fair wage for their services elsewhere.

And that is where the problem comes in for Mr. Gold. If he overpays for players he considers elite, and then runs into a budgeting problem trying to fill the extra roster spots, he could wind up playing too much for players who are not of top quality of past the best before date. Or potentially wind up fielding a team of all academy players which could relegate West Ham.

Players could end up leaving England and going to other leagues without a salary cap, which would draw the best players out of the Premier League and lowering its quality. It would be hard to see why a player would stay and play in England if a team in Spain, France or Russia came calling. It is not as though those teams are short of cash, or worried about Financial Fair Play and will overspend for players past their prime such as PSG with Ibrahimovic or Zenit St Petersburg with Hulk. Teams thinking that they need an elite player to draw attention to their team will pay inflated prices for what players have done, not what they will do. So players edging into their mid-twenties and thirties could end up looking for a big payoff outside of England in a salary cap system.

To the points being made my Jobi McAnuff and David Gold its pretty simple. If you feel football is not affordable to lower income families why not use your wages and buy tickets for these lower income families (McAnuff), make home ticket prices the same whether you are watching Manchester United or Southampton (Gold), or pay players based on more than one season and a thirty-five million pound transfer fee (Gold again).

Don’t look for The FA to solve all problems. I do not even look to The FA to do what is right for England.

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