Football: Sir Alex in call for salary cap

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The Independent Online
SIR ALEX FERGUSON has called for a cap on players' wages to stop salaries spiralling out of control.

The Manchester United manager is alarmed by the huge increases in wages over the last few years and the fact some of the Premiership's top earners are taking home in excess of pounds 40,000 a week.

Ferguson believes the top players should earn the top wages, but he feels there should be a limit. "We're living in an era of football where some of the salaries are crazy and it does worry me," he said in the official Manchester United magazine. "But we just have to try and do our best and we've been successful with what we try to do. I'm all for progress and I believe top players should be given top wages, but I also believe there has to be a system of wage-capping before things get too far out of control."

United already operate a salary ceiling at Old Trafford with top earners like Mark Bosnich believed to be taking home around pounds 30,000 a week. Ferguson's wage ceiling has already caused him problems with the club captain Roy Keane's refusing to sign a new contract with the Treble winners, reportedly because the club would not meet his financial demands.

Ferguson also appears to be contradicting himself. In his autobiography, Managing My Life, he claimed the club's wages ceiling prevented him signing some of the world's best players and conquering Europe sooner.

Meanwhile, Coventry City yesterday hinted they might be prepared to risk a Premier League rap and play the on-loan signing Carlton Palmer at Tottenham Hotspur.

The Highfield Road club pounced for the veteran Nottingham Forest midfielder on Friday but were incensed when Forest returned the registration documents to the Premier League 20 minutes after the noon deadline. Coventry's chairman Bryan Richardson is also unhappy that the governing body refused to allow the registration to go through after the club informed them the documentation had been completed and was on its way to London. The club maintain that as their game with Spurs has been pushed back 24 hours, the registration deadline should legally have been noon on Saturday.

The club are now consulting the Coventry director and lawyer Michael Jepson, who returned from holiday yesterday, and they will make a decision just before Gordon Strachan names his team today. Richardson said: "We are talking to our lawyers at the moment. One of our directors, Michael Jepson, is also our lawyer and he is also the man, along with a couple of other lawyers, who drafted the rules of the Premier League. We couldn't reach Michael on holiday but we will now get an opinion from him. We won't play Carlton if there is any risk of losing three points but there is absolutely no doubt that we have a very strong case."

The Scottish Premier League side Hearts are considering tabling an offer for Tottenham's out-of-favour Algerian midfielder Moussa Saib. Saib, a former team-mate of the Tynecastle striker Stephane Adam at Auxerre, impressed in a closed-doors match against Newcastle on Friday and is wanted by the Hearts manager, Jim Jefferies.

He said: "You can tell that he is a quality player. I don't know what it would take to bring him to Hearts but he's definitely a target for us. Since George Graham took over at Spurs he's been out of their plans."

It is understood Saib would be available for less than half the pounds 2.3m Tottenham paid Valencia for his services.