The Pros and Cons of Sporting Salary Caps

Salary cap

The EFL is devising a salary cap plan to create a sustainable environment for League One and Two teams in the post-COVID-19 era.

EFL chairman Rick Parry told MPs the game needed a “resetpost-COVID in order to control finances during a difficult period. The salary cap is being welcomed by some clubs; however, other clubs feel that the cap is restrictive and will cause a drop in quality.

Sporting Salary Caps: Pros and Cons

Basics of the Proposal

  • League Two’s wage cap proposal is £1.5m.
  • League One’s wage cap proposal is £2.5m.

What Are the Potential Pros of Implementing a Salary Cap?

Salaries paid to players under the age of 21 will be exempt.

  • Level financial playing field
  • Leagues will be more competitive
  • Talented players won’t be poached as easily

A salary cap forces ‘bigger’ clubs to concede their financial advantages, meaning that smaller clubs can compete on a level playing field. Another benefit is that, with a limited financial cap, it is harder for a team to build a dominant monopoly, increasing the league’s competitiveness.

Dale Vince, chairman of Forest Green Rovers, is a supporter of the cap and has tweeted his thoughts on the issue.


A majority of the most popular sports have salary caps in place. In America, wage caps are the preferred method of working. The NFL, NHL and NBA all work with wage caps, albeit with different rules and regulations for each sport. Looking more closely at football, the MLS is a successful league with a wage cap.

So, in theory, the benefits are clear. A financial level playing field for all teams; a greater chance of talent distribution, and fewer financial risks for clubs.

What Are the Potential Cons of Implementing a Salary Cap?

  • Convoluted rules and loopholes
  • No guarantee of success
  • Teams working under the salary cap will struggle to keep players

To put it simply, a ‘salary cap’ is never simple. The salary cap systems are often convoluted and most even have loopholes that allow players to earn above the caps.

The cap in the UK would put teams in League One and Two at a disadvantage in the transfer market. Implementing a salary cap for lower leagues would likely quash any interest from higher-quality players. This would also debilitate clubs in the bottom two divisions as their best players could potentially seek a transfer move to facilitate a pay rise.

There is also no guarantee that clubs operating in the same league will have equal footing when it comes to signing players. The ‘bigger’ club mentality will always be a part of football, whether it be a prestigious history, large stadium size, or monetary value.

The Players Football Association has also announced its disapproval of the cap. The PFA believes in the financial control of football but wants to protect the player’s interests.

The resistance that has met the proposal has forced the postponement of the decision to implement a salary cap.

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