Whenever I write about the salary cap, it makes me quite angry and sound a bit bitter.
There’s no doubt we had our best season in my life as a result of the salary cap. Competitive spending meant that we were able to use our budget to better effect, as players demands were lower. I thought, after the Covid-hit season, football would reset somewhat and common sense would reign supreme. It hasn’t, has it? Big clubs have spent a lot of money, some smaller clubs have spent just as much and despite increasing our budget, we’ve fallen down the table in terms of League One spenders.
Much has been made of our transfer policy over the summer, and whether you think it was good enough or not, it was badly affected by club’s being unrestricted on how much they can spend. I know of a regular at Sheffield Wednesday who was ready to sign here, but in the space of 24 hours had his wages vastly improved, beyond our means. I know of a striker at a club below us in the table who was given our very best offer and had virtually doubled it moments later on the phone. The club he signed for are no bigger than us, but their owners are risking the long term future for a short term fix.
The salary cap, as flawed as it might have been, did put that to one side. I wasn’t sure if I was entirely behind Sunderland only being able to spend as much as Morecambe, I could see the pros and cons, but I was 100% behind properly controlled spending. Not just because we do it right and others do not, but to stop another Bury happening, or to limit clubs spending £112 on wages for every £100 they earn (if you know, you know).
It seems now we could have a former Imp to thank for a reintroduction of the salary cap. Maheta Molango, who played here on loan, is the new PFA chief, and he’s seemingly getting behind a new, revised salary cap. Remember, it was a legal challenge from the PFA which saw the old one abandoned, but there’s been a change at the top, and according to the Mail Online, Molango has met with clubs to discuss a possible new regime of spending restrictions. It seems as though it would be flexible, and based on a clubs turnover, rather than a rigid cap. I can see the benefits of that, but it must take into account genuine turnover over artificially inflated turnover.
I confess, it does feel rather crass this season to see clubs spending money on players, big money too, when they’ve claimed poverty a little over a year ago, screaming for a handout from the Premier League. One or two have even been in administration in recent years, and yet are happily throwing reported five-figure sums at players in a division that really doesn’t demand it. That has driven the market up for everyone, with players who were happy to get (as an example) £3k a week last season, now wanting five. Have they got better over the summer? No, but those spending big have helped push the market up, which is why we’ve taken a step back in real terms, despite spending more.
It remains to be seen if Maheta Molango can help put a revised salary cap on the table, but if he can, it might mean him helping the Imps out once again, just as he did (briefly) on the field back in 2005.