What’s the point of the Wage Cap?

Before I start this isn’t going to be an article which points fingers at the so-called ‘Big Four’ but actually looks at if there really is a need for a wage cap in the Elite League any more?

The rules of the wage cap itself are shrouded in confusion. I’m lead to believe that the cap is for actual net wages paid, so extras such as university courses, cars, houses and the like are not part of the cash figure. With this being the case, how can a wage cap be accurately policed, especially when you consider that the wage cap is a ‘Gentleman’s Agreement’ amongst the EIHL owners?

With all that in mind I really don’t see the point of a wage cap any more. It’s pretty obvious to me that Belfast, Nottingham, Coventry, Sheffield and Cardiff are paying more than the supposed cap level, so why have it? Can you imagine a wage cap in Football? It just wouldn’t happen, so why should it in hockey? Having a wage cap hasn’t stopped two clubs from dropping out of the league after all.

My reasons for believing this is I am getting sick and tired of fans throwing accusations once any team signs a player. The only way for sure to know what a club is spending on players is to have access to the books, and that ain’t ever going to happen! It has been argued that the cap should be changed to a percentage of turnover similar to that in Rugby League, but again without access to the books it is a non-starter.

I say scrap the wage cap, and let teams spend what they can genuinely afford.


1 Response to “What’s the point of the Wage Cap?”

  1. 1 grumpyminer May 12, 2009 at 2:48 am

    Imagine a wage cap in football!
    Maybe it would have prevented Luton, Bournemouth, Rotherham, Darlington, Stockport and Southampton going into administration last season and many others over the last ten. Ok so maybe not all of the teams mentioned were totally responsible for their financial inadequacies, but player wages is the biggest outlay of any professional (and semi-pro) football club. The smarter clubs in the Coca-Cola League do have a self-imposed salary cap. This obviously keeps them in business but makes for a lesser chance of success.

    The problem with the wage-cap in the EIHL is, as you say, it is not an actual rule and it lacks boundaries. The real wage cap should be the amount a team can afford to pay its player after all other outgoings are taken into account. This is the only way to keep the Hulls, Newcastles and Edinburghs from following the Phoenix and Bison. BUT, how many seasons did Basingstoke have alarm bells ringing when they tried to match the spending of the “big four”? Every season. So a self-imposed wage cap in the EIHL for the “not-so-big four” would be the answer?
    This would make for a four team league with some other teams playing for the chance to be best also-ran. A bit like the Premier League and not much different to what it is now.

    The real problem of letting the teams spend what they can “genuinely afford” would be that certain teams might not know what they can afford. It has happened before when team owners with business interests away from hockey, have found those businesses floundering and have pulled cash from the hockey team/club accounts to cover those cashflow troubles.
    British Ice Hockey can ill afford another Grand Slam winning bankrupcy case.

    The wage cap idea was brought in to try to make the league competitive. To even it out, to allow every team a chance to win the trophy that hasn’t happened but it has ensured that we still have enough teams to make a league, well just about. There needs to be changes to make it work correctly and some big decisions.

    First, the team owners have to decide whether they want to have this “even” league. If they do then they need to put in place specified rulings about player wage spending to be based on percentage of income, the remainder of the income will cover the necessary outgoings of other staff wages, ice-time, sundries, etc and when those payments are covered the remainder goes into a pot which is then re-distributed equally to the clubs as profits (or further spends). These rulings would need to be set in stone with limited or no flexibilty and written for all to see (with the rest of the rules, if you please!!)

    If the even league is not part of the plan the just take away the re-distribuion pot.

    Whilst the wage cap is in existence, we will always have the pointy-fingers but take it away and we may well find the Elite League going the same way as the old Superleague and leaving us with anotherdrop in the standard of top-flight British Ice Hockey.


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