Leading Article: We don't need these caps in football

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The Independent Culture
ALEX FERGUSON, the manager of Manchester United, wants to pay his top footballers more, and at the same time he wants players' pay to be capped. What is going on? Simple: he does not like his board telling him how much he can spend. He wants to pay Roy Keane more, to settle their contract wrangle. And he worries about being able to buy the world's best players in a market driven ever upwards since players were allowed to negotiate their own terms.

But the palace of paradoxes upon which his plan for a European wage cap is built is a rickety and implausible structure. It was in living memory that Jimmy Hill broke the pounds 8-a-week maximum wage for professional players. Now a New Labour knight, with the insignia of the free market on his shield, wants to reimpose it at 15,000 times that level (Christian Vieri is paid pounds 123,000 a week by Inter Milan). He proposes an employers' conspiracy against players' interests. And it is the star players that we pay to see. It may not be fair that Man Utd, a profit-making company, is up against Italian owners who pay highly in order to inflate their egos. But that is too bad. As manager of the richest, most powerful fish in the British pond, Sir Alex will just have to accept that there are other fish in the world's sea.

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