The salary cap doesn’t need to be scrapped it needs reform, and so does the narrative around it.
Discussion around the salary cap is in desperate need of a revamp. To scrap or not to scrap, that is the question. Except it’s not.
Numerous fans, club executives and commentators believe, publicly and privately, that it should be scrapped so we can attract better players. The PFA naturally advocates for higher wages and benefits for footballers.
If we are going to take these short-term ideas into consideration, we should also remember this.
League and club mismanagement has seen the A-League fall off a cliff. Short-term actions, sugar hits and ideas like ‘Star Wars Round’ has seen clubs forget about communities, people, social responsibility and identity.
The way forward for the A-League must be long-term thinking.
The salary cap plays a role in fixing those mistakes. Mistakes that can be rectified without ripping away the financial safety net.
Keeping and reforming the cap allows us to use growth in incomes to achieve our goals for the future; producing quality footballers and coaches while building clubs and a league with soul and dignity.
Football executives have wrongfully narrow-casted the role of the salary cap.
The salary cap has been measured so far on its ability to promote competitive fairness, which is a flawed concept.
Competitive fairness can’t be maintained if a club owner is in financial ruin, a problem that has plagued the Central Coast Mariners.
It’s not the fault of the salary cap that the Mariners have fallen into this predicament, it’s Mike Charlesworth’s lack of investment.
During some of the Mariners worst performances and crowd attendances a few years ago, he advocated to abolish the salary cap.
The man who can barely spend the entire cap wants to remove the restriction so everyone can outspend him more. Bonkers.
The league has changed, our objectives have changed and so has the responsibilities of the salary cap system.
To achieve them, the A-League must promote an environment that places financial responsibility as a priority.
This is being experimented in England.
Their salary caps are coming. The lower leagues are hellbent on it as they watch historic institutions fall by the wayside because of financial recklessness linked to inflated wages.
The English Premier League almost imploded earlier this year when the Super League attempted to rip its heart out, the world’s biggest league was almost brought to its knees simply as a result of repulsive greed.
It’s a by-product of a football system that let the push and pull of the market allow the big boys to take control.
The market doesn’t care about the little guy, it punishes them. The market favours those with spending power.
When the market runs the show, it entrenches wealth at the top. It doesn’t trickle down, not in society, not in football.
If this independent league delivers the financial windfall the clubs promise, a good chunk of funds must be directed to long term investments that benefit us for in the future as opposed to being focused on the playing roster.
How do you manufacture doubt over the salary system? Delicate wordplay.
The A-League money men will say complete removal of the salary cap has benefits for the whole game.
If an A-League club executive tells you that the salary cap should be scrapped so they can attract better players, remind them of the marquee rule and the opportunity in investing in Australian youth.
If a big club tells you they should remove the cap so they can compete with Asia, think about what it means to smaller clubs in Australia who will be left in the dust.
If a rich A-League club says they should ‘bear the ‘burden’ of spending big bucks which trickles down to the smaller clubs, point them to the despair clouding the league in 2020, just six years after the prosperity of the Del Piero era.
If you understand the potential of the salary cap to build armour around our league you will also understand the massive opportunity we have ahead of us if those increased incomes eventuate.
It is an enormous opportunity to grow our fanbases. Not with better paid foreign players, but with investment in communities, local institutions, building social capital, a soul and an identity.
It is an opportunity to increase the quality of the game in Australia, not with better Spanish or English players, but with better Australians.
Investing in facilities, coaches and players will benefit the league and national team.
It’s an opportunity to build clubs that care about things other than the profit and loss statement.
It won’t come with bigger pay packets for players, but with revenue generating infrastructure that offers a benefit to clubs and to the communities they serve.
The club serves the community, not the other way around.
This is how you build fanbases.
This is how you run sustainable clubs.
This is how you secure bigger crowds, friendlier viewership numbers and much more in the future.
The salary cap gives us the breathing space to invest in these initiatives that will make us stronger in the long run.
Removing the salary cap will hold us back and condemn us to ‘short-termism’. Short term gain for long term pain.
It will come to the detriment of Australia’s success on the world stage.
Reform of the cap can be achieved with diligent administration at A-League level and the ability to buy into the bigger picture, but it can also be wasted by self interest.
Don’t be fooled into thinking self-interest doesn’t still exist in the game.