Jump to content
Total Rugby League Fans Forum
Sign in to follow this  
Cheshire Setter

The Cap Paradox

Recommended Posts

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-league/50319010

Please don't turn this into a 'RL fans are all so negative blah blah blah thing', let's have some constructive discussion with serious and well-made points...

So, Noble thinks raising the cap will be good for Rugby League by allowing the few rich clubs to attract players with 'Superstar' status to the ESL.  From a selfish point of view, this would also be good for my club which is one of the ones fortunate enough to have a sound financial backing along with some generous donations from Daddy when we spot something fancy in the shop window.

However, like Pure Capitalism itself - is Rugby League at risk of eating itself?   History has shown how fragile sporting clubs are, and none moreso than RL clubs - especially at the moment and in the immediate future.   At the end of the nineties, the old dinosaur that was RL was pretty much dead (despite the superior entertainment on the field) and the way the de-industrialised economy has developed over the last 20 years means we have a more financially-struggling fanbase (even though crowds have increased a little at the top division clubs).   We've countered the rot by imposing spending regulations on clubs to avoid a repeat of the Widnes-style 'spend-beyond-their-means' affairs.

If we allow mega salaries for star players, will this push up 'good-but-not-star' players' demands?   Thereby leading to only maybe 3-4 clubs (Warrington, Leeds, Saints, Wigan) who will probably snap up all the star talent.   Would this potentially lead to a lopsided league again, with a few big clubs maintaining crowds around 10,000 and the clubs below them losing more and more fans until they go bust?   With only a few bug clubs left in business and a lack of a competitive league will crowds return to the Wigan-dominated 90s levels (pretty poor outside Wigan and Leeds)?

I can't work out which way it would go, but I have to admit I feel more nervous about RLs future now than I ever have.   I think I'm in the negative camp on this one.

Edited by Cheshire Setter
  • Like 2
  • Sad 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't see how more superstar players playing in Super League, increasing attendances, attracting sponsors and getting more publicity, can possibly be a bad thing.

  • Like 9

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, Cheshire Setter said:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-league/50319010

Please don't turn this into a 'RL fans are all so negative blah blah blah thing', let's have some constructive discussion with serious and well-made points...

So, Noble thinks raising the cap will be good for Rugby League by allowing the few rich clubs to attract players with 'Superstar' status to the ESL.  From a selfish point of view, this would also be good for my club which is one of the ones fortunate enough to have a sound financial backing along with some generous donations from Daddy when we spot something fancy in the shop window.

However, like Pure Capitalism itself - is Rugby League at risk of eating itself?   History has shown how fragile sporting clubs are, and none moreso than RL clubs - especially at the moment and in the immediate future.   At the end of the nineties, the old dinosaur that was RL was pretty much dead (despite the superior entertainment on the field) and the way the de-industrialised economy has developed over the last 20 years means we have a more financially-struggling fanbase (even though crowds have increased a little at the top division clubs).

If we allow mega salaries for star players, will this push up 'good-but-not-star' players' demands?   Thereby leading to only maybe 3-4 clubs (Warrington, Leeds, Saints, Wigan) who will probably snap up all the star talent.   Would this potentially lead to a lopsided league again, with a few big clubs maintaining crowds around 10,000 and the clubs below them losing more and more fans until they go bust?   With only a few bug clubs left in business and a lack of a competitive league will crowds return to the Wigan-dominated 90s levels (pretty poor outside Wigan and Leeds)?

I can't work out which way it would go, but I have to admit I feel more nervous about RLs future now than I ever have.   I think I'm in the negative camp on this one.

To be honest, the introduction of the salary cap has hardly brought the league together. We're all happy that Salford got to the final this year, and Castleford a few years ago. But it is still the same few names on the trophy.

I think it could help build upon itself, and by that I mean, having the rich clubs actually able to bring in higher quality of players and pay them more, which will hopefully bring in more rich people that can fund the clubs that haven't progressed for 100 years, which will hopefully bring them to a more level playing field.

I think having such a low cap in SL often makes rich money men not even think about Rugby League, because the numbers are just too small.

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Damien said:

I don't see how more superstar players playing in Super League, increasing attendances, attracting sponsors and getting more publicity, can possibly be a bad thing.

I'd like to think so, but I'm just thinking back to when we could do that previously - did it actually have that effect back then?   That's not sarcasm, it's a genuine question.   The only example I can think of is when RL had a bigger profile in the 90s (one of the few televised professional sports) and Wigan would get some fairly big sponsorships associated with their RU captures (but mainly their trophy-dominance).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Having a cap but increasing it would be a good idea, clubs shouldn’t be brought down to the lowest denominator and if players can be kept in SL instead of going to the NRL it can only be a good thing. If anything it might make some clubs raise their game as they know they have to do more to compete. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, Click said:

To be honest, the introduction of the salary cap has hardly brought the league together. We're all happy that Salford got to the final this year, and Castleford a few years ago. But it is still the same few names on the trophy.

I think it could help build upon itself, and by that I mean, having the rich clubs actually able to bring in higher quality of players and pay them more, which will hopefully bring in more rich people that can fund the clubs that haven't progressed for 100 years, which will hopefully bring them to a more level playing field.

I think having such a low cap in SL often makes rich money men not even think about Rugby League, because the numbers are just too small.

Interesting point.   I wonder how we find the balance of one against the other.   How much do we raise the cap?   And do we actually discriminate against the lesser clubs in what they're allowed to spend to prevent a Widnes / Bradford style catastrophe?

I don't think it's a simple issue and I would hope the SL/RFL puts a big focus group together to work through it before making any typical RL-style rash decisions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is time to raise the cap and let RL go 'Big Time!'; the forge is hot; strike the steel and lets get this done ASAP....we can't afford to dawdle like bumps on a log......WE CAN DO IT!

  • Like 1
  • Sad 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For me it comes down to two questions:

1) Do we want Super League to be able to attract (and therefore sell access to) some of the world's biggest talents, like SBW?

2) Should talents like SBW be able to earn what they are worth?

For me, the answer to both of those questions is yes. 

I'm not against a salary cap in principle. I am against this particular salary cap. In its current format, it has two many flaws.

Firstly, it's artificially low. It is more than £1m less in real terms than it was in 1999, despite rising attendances and TV income in that period. It has been kept that way due to a combination of club owners wanting to limit their own personal costs and through an ideology that we should not allow clubs to run at a pace that's faster than the slowest man. From the simple perspective of "we should be paying people a salary appropriate to their efforts, because it's the right thing to do", it should be higher. RL will never be the most lucrative sport to play, but if we are going to insist on taking teenagers, diverting them away from skills and vocations to a career in RL, only to throw them back into the world and the bottom of the career ladder in their mid-30s (if they're lucky enough to avoid serious injury), we owe it to those players to pay them well enough. 

Secondly, it's not clear what that salary cap is successfully achieving. Twenty years since it was introduced, we still only have four names engraved on the trophy whilst one of those clubs, amongst several others, have gone from financial crisis to financial crisis. On the two most commonly highlighted arguments for a salary cap, it has failed to deliver on either. 

Thirdly, I think the salary cap has supressed standards. It has seen us lose talent to the NRL and, whilst not all of that will have been financially-motivated, we have to acknowledge that it is a big factor. It doesn't allow those clubs that are successful off the field to set a pace on the field. Instead, it keeps them on a leash, less able to raise benchmarks and standards across the board and less able attract talent that could not only help the competition grow but that, most importantly, that they could afford. 

I think the salary cap needs to evolve. At the very least, it needs to rise in line with inflation. The salary cap should never be used as a way to make the players pay for the commercial failures of the clubs. It also needs to be structured in a way that encourages clubs to grow off the field and structured in a way that encourages higher standards and innovation. We used to have the 50% income rule - in hindsight it may have been a mistake to scrap that. 

Increasing or reforming the salary cap to achieve that doesn't and shouldn't give clubs licence to run themselves irresponsibly. Perhaps a football-style FFP / P&S system is more appropriate? 

Edited by whatmichaelsays
  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, whatmichaelsays said:

Secondly, it's not clear what that salary cap is successfully achieving. Twenty years since it was introduced, we still only have four names engraved on the trophy

Another interesting point.   I was always under the impression it was there to prevent financial failure as the primary objective, with a secondary effect of levelling the playing field.   The playing field has levelled to a certain degree, when results are considered instead of trophies, but the entertainment standard has dropped since the 2000s.   In fact it's really the last five years that has seen the biggest decline - is this purely the lack of star players or is it something we've done in the way we coach?   Is it time to forget the NRL and go back to a more open play?   Would fancy rugby bring in the crowds?   It certainly would look better for the neutrals and potential new fans.   Another tough one to work on.

13 minutes ago, whatmichaelsays said:

I think the salary cap needs to evolve. At the very least, it needs to rise in line with inflation. The salary cap should never be used as a way to make the players pay for the commercial failures of the clubs. It also needs to be structured in a way that encourages clubs to grow off the field and structured in a way that encourages higher standards and innovation. We used to have the 50% income rule - in hindsight it may have been a mistake to scrap that. 

Very good point.   Provides a safety net but rewards those who work hard to grow their clubs.

Edited by Cheshire Setter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Cheshire Setter said:

Another interesting point.   I was always under the impression it was there to prevent financial failure as the primary objective, with a secondary effect of levelling the playing field.   The playing field has levelled to a certain degree, when results are considered instead of trophies, but the entertainment standard has dropped since the 2000s.   In fact it's really the last five years that has seen the biggest decline - is this purely the lack of star players or is it something we've done in the way we coach?   Is it time to forget the NRL and go back to a more open play?   Would fancy rugby bring in the crowds?   It certainly would look better for the neutrals and potential new fans.   Another tough one to work on.

I think all are part of the mix but for me, I think it was the stars that provide much of the entertainment. 

As much as he tormented the side I support, Watching players like Lesley Vainikolo would always get you excited. One of my favourite Leeds players of the SL era was Ali Lauitiiti, purely because he was doing things that I'd rarely seen a second row forward do. As a kid, my first introduction to rugby of any sort was watching Jonah Lomu flattening Mike Catt and Tony Underwood  in 1995 and it was a similar thing back then.

These players were marketable, they were talented, they were box office and we've lost a lot of that. The marquee rule has helped to redress that slightly, but it's a sticking plaster solution. SBW is the first genuinely marketable player we've had in SL for a long, long time. 

Yes, I think there are elements of coaching and rule intepretations that have compounded the issue and I think we need to get back to an environment where the flair players can shine, but we also need to be able to attract and keep those flair players. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I used to think the cap was a good idea and would help stop clubs going bust.

My preferred option is now to get rid of it BUT if they must keep it, raise it -substantially. 

Edited by Johnoco
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, Cheshire Setter said:

Provides a safety net but rewards those who work hard to grow their clubs.

We have to think more outside this box to even up the competition and this is especially important where dominance and one sided games can be very disapointing, extremely poor speactacles and about as enticing as a Brexit referendum!


“I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you.”    

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lifting the cap will always result in wage inflation for all clubs. I'd imagine the majority of SL clubs wouldn't be in favour of a substantial increase without a commensurate lift in Sky TV payments.

If Toronto want to spend ridiculous amounts on players that's fine, that's what the marquee ruling is for.

Perhaps the marquee ruling and salary cap exemptions/reductions need looking at? Maybe increase the number of marquees to benefit big spenders but offer more cap reductions to clubs that produce their own players?  

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Man of Kent said:

Maybe increase the number of marquees to benefit big spenders but offer more cap reductions to clubs that produce their own players?  

Isn't that a win win for the same people?

  • Like 1

“I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you.”    

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well salary caps are supposed to make teams more equal and thus create more competition but in 30 years we have had only 4 league champions so that would suggest that the cap hasn't worked. A massive part of this I would think is because quite a number of teams have never been able to spend up to the cap and/or certainly never been able to utilise the marquee rules in which case it seems to simply be limiting a small group of teams. 

On the face of it, I would say if quite a few teams can't reach the cap anyway then there's no real point in having it because all it is doing is limiting the small group of teams that have potential for growth. I know it stops those teams pulling even further away at the top but they still win everything even with the current limits anyway.

I think a culture has been created in this country where players dont follow the money so much as want to play for the big name teams, of course I know the big name teams are probably paying the big money as well. Certainly the case with a lot of NRL players, they want to play for Wigan, saints, Leeds cos they will get to play in front of big crowds and win trophies. Bit of a catch-22 I guess, players want to play for the big clubs which means small clubs can't attract big players to help them win something and challenge the dominance at the top. 

Money will always attract some players to whichever club puts in the highest bid of course. I always think of Salford for this argument. Koukash wanted to spend money and invest heavily in the playing staff but was stifled by the cap limit which he said needed increasing. If he had have been allowed to invest the money he wanted, Salford could be in a very different position now, probably why their achievements this year were all the more extraordinary. 

I am confident without such restrictions the league would look more attractive to the big money and bigger sponsors. We sometimes belittle RL in this country but you have to remember 10,000 people in your ground every other week is not a small number and we are the second most watched sport on sky. There is plenty of exposure for a company's brand which is an attractive investment opportunity. If we can get the investment and get the big names from union and the NRL then those crowds and viewing figures will surely only increasing and with that so will the attractiveness of the sport to the investor, after all business is about selling your brand and the more people you tell about it the more money you will make. More investment, more trophies, more exposure brings more people. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My club, Saints, would likely benefit from this and from a purely selfish point of view, if we were in for Latrell Mitchell for example, I’d be over the moon. I travelled a couple of hundred miles for Ben Barba’s debut and I met others who had done the same, such was the hype around him and that was a man who left the game under a bit of a cloud and emerged with a ban to his name. I think similar would happen again if the floodgates were thrown open and we could sign players for whatever we liked. 

I think there’s probably 5-6 clubs at most that would benefit from no salary cap, but the rest could struggle to compete.

That said, I do worry that clubs could perhaps take a risk if there were no salary cap and we could possibly see some hit financial trouble. That said, we have a salary cap and we’ve seen a few Super League clubs in the past ten years or so with financial problems anyway.

My worry with no salary cap is the effect it will have on younger players attempting to come through and how that would effect the England/GB team in the long term. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One of the problems with the salary cap is that it has stagnated in value when we should be looking to incrementally grow it in my view.

In 2002 when the salary cap value was introduced it was set at £1.8M whereas in 2019 it is £2M. 

Using the Bank of England inflation calculator, £1.8M in 2002 is the equivalent of £2.9M today which means that in real terms the value of the cap has fallen by around £900k (or 31%).

The marquee rule helps a little but as well as the marquee rule we should be looking to increase the the value of the cap above inflation and then we can freeze on an annual basis if we start to see any pain points in the clubs.

If we had used a formulae of inflation +2% from 2002 to today then that would have put the cap at around £4.1M in 2019 which would give clubs more buying power but wouldn't have been such a big impact of trying to raise the cap by £1M+ in one go.

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Oliver Clothesoff said:

That said, I do worry that clubs could perhaps take a risk if there were no salary cap and we could possibly see some hit financial trouble. That said, we have a salary cap and we’ve seen a few Super League clubs in the past ten years or so with financial problems anyway.

I think that's where an FFP-style regulation can play a role. You could, for example, prevent explosions in player salary by linking salary increases to club growth - if clubs want to spend more on talent, they need to have developed the business so that they can pay for them. You could also potentially have a mechanism that limits the influence of owner / director benevolence to prevent clubs from benefitting from "financial doping" through directors loans that will never be called in. 

Don't get me wrong, football's systems have their own loopholes and controversies, but it wouldn't be a bad place to start looking. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, Oxford said:

We have to think more outside this box to even up the competition and this is especially important where dominance and one sided games can be very disapointing, extremely poor speactacles and about as enticing as a Brexit referendum!

Yes I remember just how poor some games like that can be.

Have to disagree about the Brexit referendum - it was an exciting closely-matched affair that could have gone wither way...   it's just the 3 years of post-match analysis that's spoiled it 😁 

  • Like 1
  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, whatmichaelsays said:

You could also potentially have a mechanism that limits the influence of owner / director benevolence to prevent clubs from benefitting from "financial doping" through directors loans that will never be called in.

Wouldn't this put off potential rich backers from investing though?   Football can get away with it as they have a plethora of wealthy fans.   RL doesn't.  Maybe one for the future if we can ever grow / avoid a slow death.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, Cheshire Setter said:

Wouldn't this put off potential rich backers from investing though?   Football can get away with it as they have a plethora of wealthy fans.   RL doesn't.  Maybe one for the future if we can ever grow / avoid a slow death.

It depends how the regulations are structured and written. If we're talking about "rich backers investing" then, well, investors expect returns and the returns aren't likely to come from on-field performances. 

The situation I'm thinking of is less "Sheikh Mansoor at Man City"  and more "Gretna FC". We should encourage people to come into the sport and put their money into it, but we should also demand that such investments are sustainable so that, if said investor gets hit by a bus one morning, the club can still stand on its own two feet. 

Edited by whatmichaelsays

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, whatmichaelsays said:

I think that's where an FFP-style regulation can play a role. You could, for example, prevent explosions in player salary by linking salary increases to club growth - if clubs want to spend more on talent, they need to have developed the business so that they can pay for them. You could also potentially have a mechanism that limits the influence of owner / director benevolence to prevent clubs from benefitting from "financial doping" through directors loans that will never be called in. 

Don't get me wrong, football's systems have their own loopholes and controversies, but it wouldn't be a bad place to start looking. 

I believe the EFL limits player spending to 60% of turnover (at least in League 1). Is that what you mean?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, Man of Kent said:

I believe the EFL limits player spending to 60% of turnover (at least in League 1). Is that what you mean?

Something along those lines. 

Ideally I'd like to be in a position where we can expect club owners to act responsibly but if we're insisting on having protections in place, then those protections should be based on the financial situations at each club, rather than a blanket limit that would invariably be set artificially low. 

We shouldn't be running this sport by constantly asking "but could Wakefield afford it?".

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Man of Kent said:

I believe the EFL limits player spending to 60% of turnover (at least in League 1). Is that what you mean?

In principle that’s a good idea but it’s well known, or at least was to fans of smaller clubs, that Bournemouth’s Russian owner come in and would do things like “buy” sponsorship of corner flags to exploit loopholes in the system. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...