O'Neill Not a Big Fan of Salary Cap
Sunday, 12th Jul 2020 10:43
Town general manager of football operations Lee O’Neill says he’s not a big fan of the EFL’s plans for a salary cap at League One level, which he believes have a “strong likelihood” of being voted in.
A cap of £2.5 million at League One level and £1.25 million for League Two has been proposed by the EFL.
Town would be one of the clubs most affected by a cap set as low as £2.5 million, although wages of players aged under 21 wouldn’t count towards the figure. It's proposed that squad sizes would be limited to 20 senior players aged over 21 with eight homegrown.
In their last season in the Championship the Blues’ overall wage bill was £18.95 million with player wages understood to have made up around £11-£12 million of that figure.
After relegation, many players’ salaries dropped as a result of clauses in their deals, by as much as 60 per cent in some cases, however, Town’s player wage bill is almost certainly more than double, perhaps three times higher than the proposed limit and will be one of the largest in the division.
“It’s a lot higher than that, I won’t go into specifics but it’s a lot higher than that,” O’Neill told TWTD when asked about the £2.5 million cap.
“I understand why it’s on the table and why clubs are looking at it and it brings to light the financial implications around football at the moment and trying to level the playing field from a financial aspect.
“From an ownership point of view, if you have that luxury of having an owner that is willing to or able to invest more money into the club because he wants to, this obviously reduces the ability to be able to do that, and that I don’t think is fair.
“I think Financial Fair Play was put in place to look at those elements, to help the clubs who are big clubs with big fanbases, and that can economically work for most clubs if it’s adhered to. We’ve stuck to that, we’ve definitely adhered to the Financial Fair Play stuff.
“The salary cap has got to be voted through and it’s something that is being talked about. I’m not necessarily a big fan of it for obvious reasons.”
A number of clubs are understood to have spoken against the cap at the most recent meeting of the 23 clubs just over a week ago.
Given the size of the wage bills at Town and Sunderland in particular, a transition period to drop towards the £2.5 million limit seems inevitable if the clubs vote by the required two-thirds majority to institute the cap.
“You would hope so and again from the conversations we’ve had, there would be this initial period of time where it would be transitioned over, obviously looking even as early as this up and coming season. It’s an issue,” he continued.
“If you’re asking me what other people think, other clubs, I don’t know because what someone might say to us is one thing and then they might vote something different through and everyone is unique in the way that they vote things through.
“You can see some smaller clubs in this league absolutely wanting that and you can see some of the bigger clubs saying absolutely not. Where the middle ground lies and who would vote for what, I don’t know. There’s a strong likelihood that something like this could get voted through.”
O’Neill says another issue is how to deal with sides dropping out of the Championship where wage bills are very significantly higher in most cases.
“I think the gap between League One and the Championship, the cap they’re trying to talk about in the Championship, there’s a huge gap in relation to operational costs and that brings its own problems with clubs coming out of one league and into another,” he said.
“I understand the reasons why it’s being talked about and I also think then you’ve got the whole issue with players and the PFA getting involved because you’re talking about capping potential earnings as well.
“There are a load of issues which probably still need to be addressed but it is on the table and it is being discussed.”
Last week Town took up the one-year options on Tomas Holy and Jon Nolan’s contracts which O’Neill says was partly with an eye on the introduction of the salary cap.
“When we were looking at those options, what we don’t want to be is in the situation where players are in their last year of their contract and it’s very difficult then to start looking at whether they want to be here and whether we’ll be able to offer them what they want to be here,” he said.
“To look at trying to make sure that we can safeguard the club and look at a players’ situation, everyone’s individual.
“I think from a salary cap point of view, if it were to go through, then there will be some deadlines set that if certain things were in place then they wouldn’t necessarily impinge on that salary cap the following year, so that’s one of the reasons why we looked at those players individually.”
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