Fabio Capello has launched into another attack on the finances in football, this time blaming high wages for players’ unruly behaviour.
He claimed the ‘too much, too young’ culture is the reason that some footballers go off the rails, as they are used to getting whatever they want, whenever they want.
He simply said, “They are young boys, who are rich boys. This is the problem.”
Spiralling wages has long been an off-field issue for football, contributing to high ticket prices and a growing resentment towards the elite sportsmen in the UK. But can it be controlled and is it even an issue?
One argument is that the FA, UEFA or FIFA should enforce a salary cap, the likes of which have proven effective in Rugby League, the NFL, and the NBA. To introduce this in football, though, would be an almost impossible option.
For a salary cap to work properly, every nation and every governing body around the world would have to agree to it and accept its constraints. This will never happen, and without a universal agreement, players will inevitably move to the countries without a cap where they can earn the most money.
Different tax and exchange rates are further obstacles to a salary cap and complicate any bid for the system to succeed.
Furthermore, caps in American sports are governed by specific rules that would not apply in football. the NBA’s ’soft cap system’ has a series of complicated exceptions which allow teams to exceed the cap in some circumstances, and the MLB’s cap is reinforced with Luxury Tax, where teams pay tax on any wages over the limit.
But the most conclusive reason is that all US sports are played almost exclusively in America and are governed by a solitary governing body, with all young players moving through the established High School-College-Pro route. Put simply, you either accept the salary cap or you don’t play.
Ultimately, competition between European leagues and clubs would make it impossible to implement a salary cap in football, and some are arguing that high wages aren’t the issue some are making it out to be.
Gordon Taylor, the PFA Chief Executive, told Sky Sports , “Players work for years to get to the top and have a career of maybe eight years.
“They have every right to earn the maximum amount possible.”
Taylor’s argument is supported by the notion that footballers are entertainers, who are paid handsomely for giving the nation great enjoyment every week.
Perhaps a more viable option would be to follow Michel Platini’s example and force European teams to live within their footballing means, but even this presents the same problems through global competition.
High wages in elite-level football will always exist while fans are willing to pay high ticket prices. When the clubs reach that tipping point, perhaps fiscal balance will shift back towards the supporters.