Ownership of an English Premier League football team should be a ‘license to print money’ but unlike the top UK soccer circuit’s North American counterparts there’s little if any controls on revenues and spending. Historically as long as a Premiership team paid their bills they were free to do what they wanted financially. The result is a circuit where teams spend as much as 70% of their revenues for player salaries.
That is about to change and the league feels that the timing is now just perfect. The Premiership has just finalized a new domestic TV contract along with rights in a number of overseas markets that will bring in a whopping $7.8 billion (US). Hoping to use that windfall to shore up the long term financial solvency of the league the rush is on to implement a salary cap for the first time in history. For any proposal to be ratified it must be approved by 14 of 20 league teams and to date there’s been considerable division on the specific guidelines of a financial framework. In the past few days talks have progressed nicely to the point that a deal is being reported as ‘imminent’ by the UK and International media.
Whatever the end product, the Premier League rules will be modeled on financial responsibility guidelines implemented by UEFA–the European soccer oversight body. UEFA General-Secretary Gianni Infantino was asked about the Premiership efforts to rein in spending earlier this week and gave a positive, if somewhat terse, response:
“It’s very positive. We can only encourage the Premier League.”
Even the deep pocketed teams atop the English Premier League have their differences. Arsenal and Manchester United have mandated full adoption of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules. Chelsea, on the other hand, wants teams to have more freedom to spend on players than their counterparts. Despite their reticense at being told what to do with their money–provided by Russian gazillonaire Roman Abramovich–Chelsea is expected to back a compromise plan that could be approved as soon as today. With the top of the Premier League power structure already on board the other teams down the line are expected to quickly come to an agreement.