Apart from the losses that virtually every franchise is suffering one of the major concerns has to be the spirally salaries that players are demanding and clubs cannot afford. Sadly this is now impacting on the levels below the A League.
Just as happened when Rugby Union turned professional players in the lower grades who had previously played for peanuts suddenly felt that they were entitled to a greater slice of the pie. Seeing players taking all of the hard earned money out of the clubs, the number of volunteers started to dwindle and many clubs ended up closing their doors or reducing the number of teams they ran.
The recent Deloittes Annual Review of Football Finance showed that the English Premier League remains the richest league in football, yet Manchester City’s wage bill was a staggering GBP173million, Chelsea topped the Salary charts with GBP191million. Income in the EPL rose by 12% to GBP2,271million, while the next nearest league the German Bundesliga was GBP700million behind.
These are massive figures which the Hyundai A league will never be in a position to compete with. One of the big issues on a relative scale is that there are many players who are playing in Australia that are receiving salaries that are not in line with what the clubs or the league can afford at this point in time.
Despite the quote from the Review in the UK stating “fans want to see their cash on the field, not in the boardroom,” ringing true in Australia, fans want to see value for money. One of the great things about Australia is that our sports stars live in the community; they are not locked away on private estates as is the case in the UK or the USA. They are felt to be a part of the community and there is a closer link between them and the fans, that is why local players tend to achieve more at their local clubs than ‘blow-ins.’ The other thing that happens is word soon filters out as to the players earnings.
The question has to be asked by many of these clubs when an agent or player puts in a wage demand, “would he be paid this anywhere else?” In at least fifty percent of cases the answer will probably be a resounding “No.” So why meet those demands? The reason is because with no transfer system in place they can walk off to another club and they will probably pay that extra money. The problem is this is happening far too often at all levels of the game.
The A League is about to enter its 8th season, and now has two more sides than it had in season one. Yet as the FFA talk about developing players we see that at the end of last season there were 22 players who in seven seasons or less had played for 3 or more clubs – two were on their 4th! – in the Hyundai A league, which is a staggering amount of clubs in such a short space of time, 69 had played for at least two clubs.
Some of these players are developing so with no transfers between clubs it is common-sense that one club will try and tempt them to join their team with an improved deal, but this means that in some cases these yet to be really proven players are ending up with salaries beyond their abilities or experience. It is not their fault but the fault of the system and the clubs.
When word gets out as to what they are earning the expectations rise with their colleagues and we witness an ever rising spiral that affects all levels of the game.
Maybe it is time that a transfer system was introduced to the Hyundai A league in order to help keep the rising salary expectations under control. If not we could see the demands outweighing the incomes generated by the clubs, and with many under the risky sole-ownership model clubs and owners may be forced to close their doors.