Doncaster welcomes salary cap debate

CHRIS LAKEY Canaries chief Neil Doncaster says salary capping must be seriously considered for the long-term good of the game. Salary capping has been in place in League One and League Two for two years and, although not legally binding, last season was the first in almost a decade when not a single League club entered financial administration.

CHRIS LAKEY

Canaries chief Neil Doncaster says salary capping must be seriously considered for the long-term good of the game.

Salary capping has been in place in League One and League Two for two years and, although not legally binding, last season was the first in almost a decade when not a single League club entered financial administration.

Now Football League chiefs are said to be keen to extend salary capping to the Championship, who have vetoed the idea once before because not all 24 clubs agreed with it.


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But the ground-breaking move will be up for discussion at the annual meeting of the league's 72 club chairmen on June 6, where one of the guests will be Jose Luis Arnaut, the man who headed the Europe-wide review of football that was published last week and who recommended salary-capping across the game.

While Doncaster declined to say which way City would vote, he said he welcomed discussion of the subject.

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“Football has to do something,” he said. “Leagues One and Two have made a lot of headway in terms of getting their houses in order.

“For the long-term good of the game it is something we have to look at and consider.”

The current salary cap in Leagues One and Two means clubs cannot spend more than 75pc of their income on all club wages, or more than 60pc on playing salaries.

Some Championship clubs are still against the idea, but League chairman Sir Brian Mawhinney is said to be committed to the principle and has been encouraged that an increasing number of chairmen, including at some of the largest Championship clubs, are warming to it.

That appears to be the view within the corridors of power at Carrow Road.

“In broad terms we would certainly welcome a discussion about salary capping,” said Doncaster. “It has worked very well in some other sports, it has enabled those sports to have better competition within their leagues.

“It is a real issue in English football, where you have such polarisation between the haves and the have-nots. We are open-minded about the option, but you show me clubs that break even in the Championship - there are not many.”

“Salary capping has worked very successfully in Leagues One and Two and the Championship should look at it. In broad terms we would be open-minded.”

Doncaster admitted he feared for the future of the game if ideas were not found to prevent clubs' perennial financial leakage.

“The vast majority of clubs have ambitions to challenge for promotion, but the reality means you are in a loss making situation that for the game to survive means we have to look at these suggestions.”

In the past lower league clubs have relied on big-money transfers of their best players to keep them going, but it's a lifeline that is gradually being eroded.

“In the past football clubs have been able to sustain some losses because of the revenues from transfers, such as in the cases of Dean Ashton or Andy Johnson, but a lot of that has dried up as the very biggest clubs look to Europe for players,” said Doncaster.

“And you have a situation where a very limited amount of TV revenue is filtering down into the Football League.”

Sheffield United chairman, Terry Robinson, who will view life in the Premiership next season, has come out in support of salary capping.

“A salary cap would be good for us because it would enable us to attract an even better quality of player,” he said. “It's something most people would be pleased to see, but it would have to be football-wide because otherwise players could simply go to other countries.”

The problem is that not all clubs would necessarily benefit.

“Take for example Wigan a couple of years ago, where they were effectively spending more than 100pc of income,” said Doncaster. “The salary cap would have curtailed their policy of using Dave Whelan's money like that.”

Arnaut is said to be an admirer of the way the Football League runs its affairs, including transparency on payments to agents and encouraging financial prudence.

Norwich use the mantra “prudence with ambition”.

“We have what we like to think is a balanced approach,” he said. “It is very easy to say it is lacking ambition, but the reality is far from that. There is so much money being spent on salaries that fees are a relatively small expense and that expense will end up causing the Championship serious problems.”

Whichever way the League chairmen vote, it is too late for a salary cap to be introduced for the new season, although senior figures in the Football League believe it may be in place within a couple of years.

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