The idea that’s time will come – salary caps in European club soccer

Gazidis says the unspeakable, a salary cap is necessary for European soccer clubs.

Mark this down, a pan-European salary cap (of some variety) will exist in my (born in 1982) lifetime. I really don’t think club football is sustainable without it.

Beginning with professionalism and moving on to racial integration of teams, free agency, players unions, modern stadiums, etc., etc., the US leads in sports innovations and the Europeans inevitable, eventually follow.

It’s gonna happen, the only questions are 1) when?, and 2) how the biggest 10 or so European clubs react when it gets foisted upon then by their leagues and/or the EU?

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19 thoughts on “The idea that’s time will come – salary caps in European club soccer

  1. I always thought that those NFL ol’ boys didn’t buy themselves EPL teams just so they could wear the tie and watch games from the owner’s box. It’s only a matter of time before they start thinking about how they’re going to turn a profit.

  2. This can only be good. I find the EPL boring and drab, because only 4 (now 3, because Arsenal have decided to stop trying) teams have a legitimate shot at winning the title, and it’s usually settled by February anyway. The only exciting part is relegation, and that’s depressing. Hopefully, their salary cap will be a bit higher than $2.73 mil, though…

  3. The problem with a salary cap in European soccer is that they don’t have a monopoly the way NFL, etc. do. Salary cap in England? I’ll play in Scotland. What are the odds? How could they do it? It would almost have to be imposed by UEFA to work. Then how do you deal with things like exchange rates and cost of living? It’s much more complicated than the NFL.

  4. Nothing is quite as popular among the sporting fans as Millionaires and Billionaires unilaterally capping labor costs throughout an entire industry, thereby ensuring massive increases in the value of their assets.

    It’s only fair after all.

  5. It would have to be implemented on a European level. Trust me, complications have never stopped the EU from regulating anything before.

  6. Except, for most US sports (including MLS), a salary cap is legal only if it’s part of labor agreement with the players union. That’s hardly unilateral. And most fans seem to approve of the concept because it creates long-term stability without a lot of labor unrest.

  7. When top flight clubs in major leagues begin to fail and not find rescuers, suddenly the players (seeing a greater potential of fewer jobs) will want the same degree of long-term stability that the owners want through reducing wages.

  8. Top european leagues haven’t had a salary cap so far and haven’t failed. If the economics become untenable they can simply scale back their spending.

    It’s more likely that guidelines will be introduced that limit the amount of debt a club can take on relative to its value IMO. I think there are too many conflicting interests to ever broker the compromise it would take to institute a europe-wide salary cap.

  9. Count me in the camp that sees a formal best practices list more than a salary cap, because the only way one can make a cap work is if all the leagues get behind it at the same time. Otherwise, it’s a reverse prisoner’s dilemma–if everybody does it they all gain, but if an individual league does it, they get hurt by the people who don’t.

    Not that the topic won’t come up a lot with so many American-influenced businessmen there, though.

  10. Does anyone else find it ironic that America, so pro-Capitalism, puts salary caps on all its leagues in the name of parity while Europe, which generally favors socialism or at least socialistic ideals, values unlimited spending in sports, which allows monopolies like Manchester United and Real Madrid to exist? I find it very interesting and pretty amusing.

  11. Its time for the MLS to loosen some of the shackles on salaries in order to increase talent and grow interest in the league. It is time for to let the MLS breath a little. Many potential fans including myself are only waiting to join up for a home league that is more akin to a fast paced and exciting holland than the current second rate mexican style league of chess-like sloth and high-school level ball skills. Increase the flair and MLS will see its TV ratings increase ten fold. This staganation with no roadmap for increasing play and too much attention on stadiums and new teams is turning many people off — we just don’t have the patience when there is the EPL or La liga a few notches down the remote control.

  12. This is why the author says “pan-European.”
    That means everybody.
    Yes, it’s more complicated, but that doesn’t make it impossible.
    How will the biggest clubs react? Look, properly managed the big clubs still have an advantage. In truth, those places will make more money if they’re not shelling out $130 million for a single player.
    A salary cap is not a “socialist” convention. Every American business has a salary cap. It’s called a budget. When American corporations lay off workers, they are reducing their “salary cap.”
    The product of any sports league is competition. The notion that Manchester United is a business apart from Liverpool is a bit of a stretch — could Man U exist in an of itself? Whom would it play? Would 70000 plus fill Old Trafford to watch the team practice?

  13. I don’t see how the EU’s competition policy presents a hurdle to the the institution of a salary cap. My understanding, which admittedly is not at the expert level, is that the EU’s Competition Commission functions similarly to the USA’s DOJ-Antitrust and the Department of Labor: It ensures that monopolies are expunged and that companies compete on a fair basis. If anything, it would seem to me that a consortium of mid-table teams in any of the Big Three EU leagues would be able to make a valid argument that by failing to share large percentages of revenue and by failing to operate under a salary cap, the top 4 in the EPL, Barcelona and RM in La Liga, and (pick three) in Serie A have effectively formed monopolies on player transfers and economic success. How would the imposition of a pan-European salary cap NOT foster competition among clubs and leagues?

  14. I thought NY Yankees support a lot of other teams by their exceeding caps. With financial well being of Euro Clubs being so newsworthy as of late, perhaps Man U having to toss poor beggars a bone would help some clubs stay afloat?

  15. The other teams don’t want to “stay afloat” they want to be competitive and win championships.

    It’s not the overarching dream of most professional teams and athletes to just “make up the numbers.” They get to where they are because they’re driven to win.

  16. Reading the article, it still kind of sounds to me like insisting every club lives within its means. There is a major difference between saying clubs can only spend a certain percentage of their revenues & reducing the payroll gap between clubs in the same league.

  17. Here’s the thing, though. Gazidis is a smart guy, smart enough to know a rule that simple probably wouldn’t pass. You’d have the opposition of ‘overspenders’ like Chelsea or Man City, but the small clubs also wouldn’t relish the prospect of being promoted to the Premiership and then told they wouldn’t be allowed to spend enough to stay there because they’re small. And even medium clubs will think about whether they really want to block themselves from taking risks to get into the Champions League.

    I think he knows that there would have to be some sort of redistributive element, some kind of holding the big clubs back a bit, to get over the ambivalence of practically everyone who isn’t ManUtd, Arsenal and Liverpool.

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