The Roar
The Roar


The A-League needs the salary cap, but not in its current form

Remember Shinji Ono? Those were the days. (AAP Image/Paul Miller)
Roar Guru
13th April, 2015

The recent Perth Glory salary cap scandal is another reminder to the FFA that the salary cap in its current form doesn’t work, and needs to be tweaked.

The A-League salary cap is dependent on the TV deal of the day, currently a $160 million, four-year deal. So the FFA gets around $40 million a year to run both the entire code and the A-League.

Of that $40 million, $25.5 million is spent on the salary cap, or $2.55m per club per year. It grows by $50,000 per team per year, so it should be at $2.6m next season.

Clubs can also have two marquees – one Aussie and one foreign – excluded from the salary cap, with a maximum of five visa players per team.

With the exception of the MLS, salary caps just don’t exist anywhere else. It might work for the AFL and the NRL, but their clubs don’t have to worry about agents from all over the world jostling and competing for the same players’ signatures. It’s a completely different world.

Australian clubs are hamstrung when they try to compete for players in a world market because of our salary cap.

We do need a cap in this country, to protect the clubs from going under or simply not paying players, but we need to come up with a way to attract and keep quality foreign players, and the top Australian players as well.

1. Pay a 20 per cent luxury tax
Make the clubs that can afford big-name foreign players help to grow the game and give back to the other clubs that can’t.

For example, at the moment Sydney FC are paying marquee striker Marc Janko a salary of $1.4m per year. Under this proposal, they’d pay $280,000 or 20 per cent of Janko’s annual salary, into a centralised fund. This would either be divided up by the other nine clubs, or be put into a term deposit for the FFA to gain interest on, and use in the long term for big projects like stadium upgrades or infrastructure for the entire code.


If four clubs had a marquee player on a $1 million salary, a total of $800,000 annually would be paid back to the clubs that couldn’t afford marquee players.

2. FFA to help fund $1 million marquee per club
The FFA could pay each club an extra $1 million per club per year, outside the current salary cap structure, to help all 10 clubs go out and get a marquee player. If a club like Sydney FC want to pay a megastar $4 million per year to Alessandro Del Piero, they can self fund the remaining $3 million. All signings would have to ratified by an expert panel to make sure they are worth that sort of money.

This helps every club to sign a marquee player each year, and that increases the whole excitement level for the competition. Under the current TV deal the FFA wouldn’t be able to finance something like this, but if those deals keep increasing this would be possible.

Aside to these ideas, I’d be scrapping the current one local, one foreign marquee system. Give every club the option of having two marquee players, regardless of where they come from. A passport shouldn’t have anything to do with it.

How would you fix the issue?