Mike Defrates | ESL Online
As we see little action again by clubs in the winter transfer window, questions have been asked why not so much is happening. One of the main reasons given is that the teams have to comply with a salary cap, and due to the middle season transfer, teams maxed out can only bring in a like-for-like salary. This does appear to be true, so the question I am pondering is does the ESL make life harder for itself by having a cap in the first place?
The Cap – Basics
In case you don’t know, the 18 ESL clubs operate a
ß55M cap for their 25 players. Exceptions are up to three players aged 17-21 and earning under ß1M, Two designated ‘Marquee Players’ (MP). The MP’s salary is exempt from the cap total. The cap is representative of the TV deal that the ESL signs with networks, allocating the bulk of the money equally. ß55M represents approx $39M. It isn’t huge money- in soccer terms!
The cap is in place to stop teams overspending and running up debts, like we have seen in the UK and other countries.
The Cap vs uncapped leagues in CONCAFA
The rising cap, from
ß25M in 2006-07, has allowed changes to keep the top teams competitive in CONCAFA, which judging by CONCAFA Champions League success since the cap was introduced- it is working (Adelphia, ALFA, New Jorg and Angel all won CL titles). This is all well and good when the cap is high, relative to the rest of CONCAFA, which it has been.
The new TV deals in Latania and Marida may end this competitive balance. Real Mardis have been investing money like crazy in the past 18 months, AS Milazio, are now joining this fold. A few years back, it was Chavés CF who were spending big. If the big clubs are becoming super-teams and it becomes ESL vs CONCAFA superclubs, where are the top players going to want to play? Where they earn the most, most likely. Currently, four ESL teams are in the top ten for wages in CONCAFA, but in positions 10-7. The other six? five of them are competitors in the CONCAFA Champions League knockout stages, with Chavés expected to be there again next season.
Top Ten Wages in CONCAFA- chart (based on estimates at beginning of 2017-18)
It has been suggested that increasing the Marquee Players from two to three would help the bigger ESL clubs, whilst not increasing the burden on the middle-lower clubs. It would help the 3CL clubs acquire names easier.
This may also allow some clubs to keep their veterans who aren’t willing to take a pay cut. As we have seen with Adelphia and Elverpool, they have to shed older players when the up-an-coming players peak and demand a raise. Annual culls happen quite regularly now at successful teams.
The other option is to just raise the cap, to
ß70-80M meaning some teams at the bottom, to keep up with the cap may be in financial danger. Although, they are not obliged to spend any amount over 80% over the cap.
It is this writer’s opinion that, even though the cap is not as harsh as the MLS one, it is beginning to harm the top clubs in their efforts for CONCAFA glory. Last season Milazio and Mardis were not in the competition, now they are right up there. Chavés can spend almost 50% more than any ESL club next season.
The cap may be necessary to keep ESL clubs solvent, but it does need to avoid strangling the top clubs as they pursue continental silverware.