Football: Salary cap can prevent boom and doom

LIBERO

IT WAS the best soundbite of the week. Football, the Coventry City chairman Bryan Richardson said, was suffering from "financial diarrhoea". He should know. His club have willingly taken part in it since the inception of the Premier League.

Richardson's target was Dion Dublin, the team's heartbeat, who has turned down an offer of pounds 16,000 a week, double his present salary, because he believes he is worth pounds 20,000. Middlesbrough are heading a queue of clubs willing to pay it.

"Money which is coming in at the top from television, increased gates and commercial activities is going straight through the system in salaries," Richardson said. "There's little or nothing left to invest - the top players are taking every penny. We cannot go on putting our neck in a noose."

His comments came on theday that Sir John Smith published the report of his inquiry into the game's "values, finances and reputation". He warned that the FA need to take more interest in the dealings of their professional clubs in these moneyed days. One would have some sympathy with Richardson had he not sanctioned the sometimes ill-judged millions that Ron Atkinson threw at Coventry's perennial relegation struggle, including a salary said to be some pounds 18,000 a week for Gary McAllister.

Or if so many people at the top of the game, who are unable to kick a ball and entertain the public that Dion Dublin helps attract through the gate, were not creaming off so much of the game's new-found wealth. Many owners, chairmen, directors and chief executives have benefited obscenely from going public, or by paying themselves huge sums, with shareholdings more valuable than ever.

In addition, players can read for themselves the contents of the "bungs" report, on which the FA say they will finally rule this week. It reveals that managers and coaches have sunk their snouts in the trough. And clubs expect the workers to tug their forelocks to the lords of the manor?

Robbie Fowler has, apparently, also asked Liverpool for pounds 50,000 a week. After a sharp intake of breath, Liverpool realised the value of their leading goalscorer and are believed to have offered him pounds 40,000 a week over five years. Replacing him would certainly cost more than pounds 10m. Were Liverpool not spending much of their burgeoning income on establishing an academy for young players, one would call this madness. In fact, all jealousy apart, it probably represents sound thinking.

And one understands Dublin's thinking, too. As well as seeing all the suits earning plenty, he has knocked around the lower divisions and broken his leg. He knows the fragile nature of his career.

So it does not sit well for those club chairmen not short of a few bob to talk about being blackmailed by players. If they are so concerned about the money issues in the game, they will not complain about Sir John Smith's idea of an FA compliance unit, advocated in these pages three years ago, examining their books.

Perhaps those besotted by overseas players will also look at how much they pay has-been talents and how much of a differential they create with resentful English squad members.

So far one of the strengths of the Premiership has been its ability to bring together many disparate clubs and ideas. Perhaps a meeting to discuss Sir John's ideas on financial matters would be productive.

Then the league could consider an idea embraced by American sports - the ultimate free market - the salary cap, whereby a club has a total allowance and allocates that as it wishes. Then all clubs compete equally.

One suspects, though, that the game will need a bust to follow the boom before sense is seen. After all, willpower alone is notknown to stop diarrhoea.

MONEY, part 2: Twelve clubs in China have admitted offering bribes to referees and 10 lamented that they had had to increase payments in 1997. Even referees, it seems, want their share. Inflation these days, eh?

MONEY, part 3: Terry Venables was the subject of a damning indictment by the Department of Trade and Industry last weekwhen he was banned for seven years from being a company director on 19 charges.

Undoubtedly there are people who have suffered from the former England coach's apparently cavalier business dealings but probably none more so than himself. The avaricious Icarus has clearly flown too close to the sun in his unqualified desire to better himself and be more than a "mere" coach.

In fact, he should still be England's coach. Had he not been so inflexible in his dealings with some of the FA's more resolute officers, and consequently resigned two years ago thismonth, all might be different.

It came to mind as Libero listened to Glenn Hoddle talk last week, in the very London conference room where Venables used to hold court, about Euro 2000, adding cryptically, "if we are still in the job".

Apparently, after the World Cup the FA and Hoddle are likely to seek to extend and improve his four-year deal. Despite everything, one cannot help feeling sympathy for Venables; after all, he is a very good coach. Self-worth is one thing, pride quite another.

MONEY, part 94: Leeds United shareholders have approved a change of name for the club owners from Caspian to Leeds Sporting. Just when we were in danger of forgetting what it was supposed to be all about. One wonders, though, what Don Revie would have thought.

News
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
people70-year-old was most famous for 'You are So Beautiful'
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballLatest score and Twitter updates
Life and Style
fashionOne man takes the hipster trend to the next level
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
Life and Style
A still from a scene cut from The Interview showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death.
tech
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

The Jenrick Group: Project Manager

£35000 per annum + Pension+Bupa: The Jenrick Group: We are recruiting for an e...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'