Monday, October 13, 2008

Why Arsenal Fans Should Hope For a Salary Cap

Morning all. After quite a busy week I am back. I haven't missed much though because Arsenal didn't have a game for the last week. So what's been going on you ask? No you probably didn't ask that at all because there are 75,235,298,235 other Arsenal sites out there for you to get your lack of news from. Due to the financial issues though, there has been quite a lot of talk lately about a salary cap in football, and a lot of debate on both sides. I for one think Arsenal fans should be supporting this, if not just because it will be better for football as a whole, but also because I think Arsenal would be one of the teams least affected by it.

First of all, I don't support any form of a salary cap that isn't worldwide or at least Europe-wide. If you have a cap only for England then players will just go to Spain or Italy or Uzbekistan or wherever they don't have a cap and can pay loads of money. So if that is the case then a salary cap is a restriction on where you can work and would hurt the business of English football. Not good. Our beloved Arsenal would go back to a team of all Englishmen, and I mean not even the best ones. It wouldn't be like Theo Walcott, it would be like Craig Alcock and Andre McCollin. Not many people have ever even heard of those guys. And that would be who was playing for Arsenal if there was only a cap in England. So forget about that point because it needs to be a worldwide cap.

So let's look at what would take place with a worldwide salary cap. We'll start with the big 4 of Liverpool, Chelsea, Man United and Arsenal. As of last season, before the re-working of some contracts, Arsenal had none of the top 50 earners in the world of football. Chelsea, on the other hand, had 8 of the top 50, and still have 7 since the departure of Shevchenko. Manchester United have 6 of the top 50, and Liverpool have 3 since the addition of Robbie Keane. So out of the big 4, Arsenal pay the least in total wages, and don't have any really exorbitant fees (with the exclusion of Fabregas who I believe makes quite a lot now, and rightly deserved). So if there was a salary cap, and I don't know exactly how it would work, set at 100 million quid per year, a lot of those players would have to take drastic pay cuts or need to move teams to get the team under the salary cap and wouldn't just go to the highest bidder. You want club loyalty back in football? If Arsenal can offer the same as any other club then why would they want to leave Arsenal, who play the best football in the Premiership?

The youth squad would also become more important because very high profile transfers would probably happen a lot less. Arsenal just happen to be developing a world-class youth squad that is just lying in wait. Players like Wilshere and others out of the academy are young, aren't paid too much yet and can already contribute, but they don't really get much of a chance because we're playing against the likes of Ronaldo, Deco, and Torres all the time. With a salary cap though all those players would be a big hit in salary for their teams, a home grown youth player like Wilshere would not.

One of the biggest benefits of a salary cap from a Premiership fan's point of view is that match day tickets could feasibly go down quite a lot in price. If you have a look at this chart from Sport-Magazine you can see the income of the big 4 for the 06-07 season.


Since this was published the Arsenal numbers have gone up for Match Day revenue and the revenue will go up again next season due to the Highbury Square Flats being sold and opened. So Arsenal already have the least in salary of these clubs, and are right up there near the lead as far as income is concerned. So if you take away some of the wage bill because of the salary cap, (you would hope) that Arsenal could afford to drop the ticket prices some. If you read this post, we were the richest club in all of Britain last season as far as total turnover.

So it is an interesting thing to think about, but with the financial outlook worsening it seems that this may become an issue. If you are an Arsenal fan I don't see why we would have any problem with it, because clubs like Arsenal who make a profit and run a good business model are not the reason it would be created. Clubs like Chelsea and Tottenham are the reason, and who wouldn't love to see them relegated?

One last little piece for you all, and if you don't watch American football you'll probably not enjoy this part but the NFL does have a salary cap, and the salary cap works. It promotes parity among the teams and keeps teams from going bankrupt. If you look at each team's salary you'll see a few notable things. The Chiefs have the most room under the cap and are terrible, but the Lions have the least room and are also terrible. So spending the most money doesn't mean you are always going to win. It shows the value of scouting talent and making shrewd business moves, which is exactly what Arsenal does. Let me know whether you agree or disagree. I'm sure there are many differing opinions on this subject, but it could become a critical decision for the football bodies to make in the upcoming years, so it's something that should be discussed. Cheers!

9 comments:

jamesgillesp said...

THe only problem is that it would be difficult to implement a worldwide salary cap - we have seen UEFA and FIFA struggle to change the allowance for foreign players due to EU laws and this might be the same.

If it were just the UK, or even England to adopt a salary cap we would instantly lose most of the best foreign players, and many good local talent would leave to countries like Spain - we would become like the French leagues.

I'd agree with you on principle though mate about the earnings!

Anonymous said...

The salary cap works in the NFl because there are no other countries where American footballers can play professionally and earn the same amount of money.

A salary cap could be fantastic for the game, but how do you set the limit? There are just too many variables between national competitions, tv revenue deals, crowd attendance and the overall quality of leagues.

In addition, what happens when a team gets relegated from the top flight? What happens to their wage budget then?

Mike said...

It would definitely be a challenge to set the cap because of the different currencies and leagues that would be involved. The budget required to field a mid-level club in England for instance could probably field a club that would absolutely dominate one of the smaller Central or Eastern European leagues. If we could find some way to set the cap so that it would vary by the quality of the league I would support it.

Honestly one of the best people to consult when setting up the system would probably be Arsene Wenger. He is an economist with tons of experience in world football.

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Anonymous said...

Few fans around England would argue that Arsenal have one of the finest youth development programs in the country, if not the world.

Of course, many of their young talents are initially recruited from oversees, but Arsene Wenger has built an infrastructure at the club that has gone on to consistently produce first team regulars.

Even those who don’t make it with the Gunners often find they become Premiership footballers elsewhere - Fabrice Muamba at Bolton for example, or Steve Sidwell of Aston Villa.

Perhaps the finest example of this second route, however, is England international David Bentley. The 24-year-old turned his back on North London, and went to make his name at Blackburn Rovers. Now back in the capital with Tottenham, he is regular in international squads.

This week, it appears one young Englishman has taken that lesson to heart. Jason Banton, a striker at Arsenal’s prestigious youth academy, has reportedly agreed a deal to join the Paul Ince revolution at Blackburn.

The 16-year-old, believed to be furious at the Arsenal coaching staff over his lack of progress at the Emirates, is rumoured to have turned down Manchester City in favour of a move to Ewood Park.

As reported by the Daily Mail, Blackburn are delighted with the coup. Managing director Tom Finn said: “We are delighted to have Jason here. He’s a young England international playing a year above his own age group.”

At the Emirates and elsewhere, however, there will be many questions. Should a 16-year-old being make his career decisions at such a young age, against the advice of coaches who have a proven track record of producing world-class talent?

Especially when that talent takes him to a club that cannot claim such a record?

Many will be forced to wonder whether Banton has made a critical error, at such an early stage in his career. While Bentley has proven that success is possible away from the Emirates, it must not be forgotten that the wide-man had made appearances for Arsenal before he left, along with an invaluable season on-loan in the Premiership at Norwich.

Banton, however, has not had so much as a sniff of first-team football for the Gunners. Compared to the stage Bentley was at when he headed to Blackburn, Banton is not even close.

Having already left Arsenal once in his young career - he moved to Spurs, who cancelled his contract over various issues - you would have thought he would be thankful to have received a second chance to learn under Wenger. This seems not to be the case, and it looks like the striker believes the grass really is greener on the other side.

Only time will tell whether he is right.

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