The Cap that Doesn’t Fit - Why Salary Caps Cannot Work in Football

The Cap that Doesn’t Fit - Why Salary Caps Cannot Work in Football
2021 has already seen the end of two very short-lived experiments with salary caps in football: one ending mid-season, the other before it even started. The reasons for the collapse of these experiments were different, but there are fundamental common problems with the concept of salary caps in football.

The first failed experiment was the English Football League’s (EFL) League 1 and League 2 Salary Cap Rules - applying to the third and fourth tier of professional league football in England, just below the Premier League and EFL Championship. At the beginning of the 2020-2021 season, the EFL introduced the Salary Cap Rules limiting the amount each club could spend on salaries to  GBP 2.5 million (approx. EUR 2,900,000) per season in League 1 and GBP 1.5 million (approx. EUR 1,750,000) in League 2. Most of the clubs in the leagues had voted in favour of the controversial new rules, perhaps understandably given the terrible financial strain they had suffered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on football.

But there were a number of problems with the cap. First and foremost, it had been rushed through by the EFL with little consideration or...

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