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Reforming the A-League salary cap, Mark Bosnich-style

Besart Berisha traded Brisbane orange for Victory navy - and the Roar didn't get a cent. (APP Image/Dave Hunt)
Roar Pro
7th May, 2014
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1344 Reads

Mark Bosnich is unhappy with the A-League’s salary cap.

A self-described ‘one for dynasties’, Bozza has expressed his frustration with the fact that Brisbane were unable to hold onto Besart Berisha.

He claims they lost their talismanic two-title winning goalscorer to rivals Melbourne Victory because of a salary cap squeeze.

This should not be altogether surprising. Bosnich did, after all, play under Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, one of the greatest sporting dynasties of the modern era.

Man United, of course, had money. And a genius manager who was able to buck most sporting trends and create multiple dynasties remarkably smoothly – excepting the ever-present Ryan Giggs, who has seemed to be around since the days of Sir Matt Busby.

However, there are many of us who simply do not want dynasties – for them, the unpredictability of the salary cap system is its charm. Indeed, in nine years the A-League has had five different grand final winners – Sydney FC, Melbourne Victory, Newcastle Jets, Brisbane Roar and the Central Coast Mariners.

The system was working.

As of the weekend, Brisbane has won three of the last four. Dynasty enough, say some. Let’s have someone new on the dais next year. The system works again. It’s not as if Berisha is a stalwart anyhow – he missed the first premiership.

But hang on a minute. What if Bosnich is right? What if we were to say ‘equality be damned’ and let Brisbane pay Berisha to lead their frontline next season?

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It’s a tempting thought – another year of togetherness and this Brisbane team could be playing football of beauty rarely before seen in this country. Four titles in five years? Maybe five in six? Would it really matter if one team dominates if they were elevating the overall standard of play?

Of course, this is not only a football issue – many an AFL team has been robbed of their stars due to salary cap squeezing. Imagine if Geelong had kept Gary Ablett Jr? Or Hawthorn had kept Buddy?

But if we do not wish to discard the salary cap entirely, how would it work? Here is one author’s attempt at solving Bozza’s dynasty dilemma.

First, we would need a solid definition of a ‘dynasty.’ Dynasties are rare, so let’s call it three grand final wins in four years.

The idea would involve, once a team has been termed a dynasty, the provision of a quota – let’s say five players – who are dynasty stalwarts. These players must have played in at least two of the grand final wins, and must be offered new contracts once a dynasty has been called.

Their previous contracts are still paid under the salary cap. However, they are now semi-marquees, allowed to be paid on top of that original salary, outside the cap. The cap is not removed entirely, but is allowed to be stretched for a few years to allow a dynasty to work their magic.

The dynasty contracts would be non-extendable – and can only be used once, to prevent your regular dynasties becoming your super dynasties, because nobody wants super dynasties. Seven or eight years of high quality football is quite enough, thank you.

Upon reading that last sentence, you would think this article has veered into the ridiculous. And you would be correct. Though not as ridiculous as the idea of encouraging dynasties in a league which already has enough trouble encouraging fans to watch struggling teams.

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And certainly not as ridiculous as contemplating the removal of the wondrous unpredictability we all love about the A-League.

Sorry Bozza, but this is one A-League fan who hopes the salary cap is here to stay.