Championship chairman look to salary cap

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Today’s Guardian reports that there is increasing support for a salary cap in the Championship, with many chairman raising their heads above the parapet publicly. While the credit crunch is having some impact on Premier League clubs they are, for the time being, protected by their record-busting £2.7 billion TV deal that will run until May 2010.

However in the Championship, where clubs receive around £1 million each from TV, the current climate is having a far bigger impact as clubs take massive financial gambles in chasing promotion leaving them mired in debt. Southampton for example lost £5 million last season despite raking in a whopping £16 million in transfer fees.

Adam Pearson, chairman at Derby County, painted a frightening picture: “The game is close to meltdown at all levels,” said Pearson. “Boards are under pressure to gain success and that leads to them paying ridiculous wages. It cannot carry on or it will end in disaster. There is a growing feeling now that some sort of wage cap has to come in.”

Coventry City chairman Ray Ranson also acknowledged that restricting wages to a proportion of turnover would be a positive step.

Not all clubs will come out and back the policy, which the Football League’s chairman Lord Mawhinney has been campaigning on for some time. The system has been in place in League Two since 2003-04 when clubs agreed not to spend more than 60% of their turnover, although League One rejected the system in 2005 feeling it too restrivtive.

But it is now though that around 50% of clubs would back the move with David Conn quoting one anonymous chairman as saying: “The recession will see a hell of a lot of clubs go into administration unless football gets some common sense into its finances. We would certainly support a salary cap.”

Clubs relegated from the Premier League have huge wage bills and struggle to get players with damaged reputations off their books. Combine this with the desperation to get back into the top-flight and many clubs find themselves in dire straights.

Many chairman now seem to have decided that a wage cap, set in relation to a club’s turnover, is the only way to protect them from themselves – something the Football Supporters’ Federation has been arguing for years.