There was no doubt that something had to be done in order to stop state league football clubs from haemorrhaging financially, but was the salary cap really the best option? To be frank the clubs only have themselves to blame. They have continued to pay ludicrous sums of money to players who are of a lower standard than in previous years and who do little or no additional training beyond their clubs two or three sessions a week. What makes the whole situation even sadder is that some of these part timers believe they deserve to be playing in the Hyundai A League, without putting in the extra work and effort that would give them a better chance of achieving that goal.
The salary cap was an attempt to arrest the outgoings at State League clubs when crowds are dwindling and costs are rising. It was a noble move, but believe it or not just four games into the season clubs who took the cap at face value are bemoaning the fact that other clubs have found ways to manipulate it. Time will tell whether this will add an extra bit of spice to some games during the season.
It is sad to see that already clubs are turning in on each other, checking on their opposition and how they have managed to circumvent the rules rather than focus on their own club; but this was always due to happen.
One area that has had mixed results is making senior first team players become involved in coaching to top up their earnings. In some cases comments have been made that these young players have enhanced the experience of playing football for their young charges and have really bridged the gap superbly between the young aspiring players and the first team.
Yet on other occasions senior players have simply gone through the motions, turning up and supervising simply to ensure that they receive their money. Their lack of enthusiasm has had the opposite effect of their contemporaries, with children becoming less enthusiastic about playing. The trouble with this idea of topping up the players wages is that some players love the game more than others, some read its nuances more than others and some are better communicators than others.
It has also seen some enthusiastic and effective volunteer coaches pushed aside so that the first team players meant their obligations and satisfy the requirements of the salary cap.
This is where ideas such as making a player work behind the bar on a training night and earn three times more than he does for playing as a top up is less harmful. Then there are those clubs who have opted to pay rent, phone bills and the like, it is simply easier to do that than have a player who has no interest in coaching children turning up and going through the motions. Having players as personal trainers is another good option as monitoring when they are conducting sessions is even harder to monitor.
This season has barely started and already there is disharmony, which is incredibly sad, but then again the salary cap was always going to cause some heartache. The trouble is even if the game’s governing body Football West did manage to source more prize money for the clubs to compete for, it would, under the current system, often only reward those who have managed to work around the salary cap.
Only time will tell if the introduction of the salary cap has paid dividends, but one feels that before the competition reaches that stage there will be a lot more wailing and renting of clothes, as possibly more clubs begin to feel aggrieved and whether warranted or not start pointing fingers.