The PFA has written to the EFL with regards to current discussions around ‘salary caps’ being applied to players in League One and League Two for the 2020/21 football season and beyond.
This followed the news that EFL clubs are expected to vote on new budgetary controls that could limit annual spending on wages to around £18million in the Championship, £2.5m in League One and £1.25m in League Two.
The letter, sent by the players’ union, reminded the EFL of their obligation to consult with the PFA and the Professional Football Negotiating and Consultative Committee (PFNCC), over any potential changes to a player’s conditions. It also stressed the need for sensible and constructive discussions in the face of financial uncertainty.
Speaking to The Telegraph Sport, PFA Chief Executive, Gordon Taylor, stated that the PFA is “not blind to the economics of the game”, supporting well-considered financial controls. The union boss added that salary caps would be less effective than robust financial fair play, which would be properly regulated and must include a toughening of the owners’ and directors’ test.
Taylor explained, “What we are not opposed to is financial fair play; clubs revealing balance sheets, showing what they have to work with and working within clear parameters. But what that does require is good monitoring from the centre or an independent body.
“Clearly, we don’t want to see clubs go bust and we don’t want to see another Bury happen. Wages need to be at a sustainable level, we know what can be sustained and what can’t be and there are lessons to be learned from Bury and other cases.
“But when we’re talking about caps for each division, it moves matters to the lowest common denominator and that’s not fair on those innovative, well-managed clubs who are prepared to have a go within their means.
Taylor also warned that restrictions would serve as a deterrent to future investors: “There are potential owners out there who want to invest in clubs because football still has that attraction. That needs to remain an option. You don’t want to find people who have been successful in business feeling deterred by such restrictions.”
Salary caps in rugby have been surrounded by controversy. Saracens, the English rugby union club, was fined £5.36m and deducted 105 points after being found to have flouted the sport’s salary cap for three successive years. Consequently, this led to the Saracens' relegation from the Gallagher Premiership earlier this season.
There have also been multiple breaches in rugby league since the Super League introduced a salary cap in 1998, and the PFA’s Chief Executive is convinced football would be exposed to the same issues.
“When you see what’s happened with Saracens in rugby union and in rugby league over salary caps, we’re not comfortable with the idea at all.”
“Wherever there have been salary caps, there has been trouble, and football won’t be any different from that. Akin to when there was a maximum wage in football, the first thing some do is look for ways around it.”
The PFA has been actively involved with clubs and players across the leagues in attempts to agree measures that help deal with the financial implications of the COVID-19 pandemic within football.
To assist with the situation, the union appointed Deloitte, enabling clubs to provide information about their financial position. As such, the PFA are acutely aware of the financial pressures facing clubs, particularly those in the lower divisions.
Despite this, Taylor feels the players' union were excluded from discussions around salary caps, even though the EFL has a legal obligation to consult with the PFA and PFNCC over any such changes.
“We have never been told officially about the salary cap proposals, this has all been going on without us. Rick Parry (EFL chairman) knows our feelings on it."
Taylor concluded: “We’re not blind to the economics of the game - to think we are gives us no credit for the role we’ve played in helping so many clubs - but if you ignore the players you’re asking for trouble. Anything that impacts on players has to go through the PFNCC. That collective bargaining agreement is quite sacrosanct.”