Salary cap on agenda as Premier League clubs seek solution to financial mess

Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool in favour of stricter rules

The 20 chairmen of the Premier League clubs will meet to decide on their own proposals for financial fair play.

The details of the proposals for the meeting are still up for negotiation, but could include one similar to Uefa’s break-even rules, and one focused on putting a cap on how much club wage bills can increase each year, although it is not known whether the cap will be by a percentage or by an absolute sum of money.

Uefa has already introduced its own financial fair play regulations, which allow for losses of up to €45m (£39m), as long as they are covered by a benefactor, over the first two-year period of the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons, and subsequent three-year periods. Investment in infrastructure, youth and community do not count towards the loss.

There is an attempt, now, to introduce similar plans in the Premier League. There had been an initial proposal last month, from Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool – the most enthusiastic clubs about fair play rules – to adopt the Uefa plans as the Premier League’s own.

The first proposal in front of the clubs today could be similar to the Uefa plan, with a restriction on the amount of money that clubs can lose over specified periods of time, as long as the losses are covered by  equity investment from an owner.

Naturally, clubs with benefactor owners such as Manchester City and Fulham are less enthusiastic about these proposals than the others, while Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion and Swansea City are also thought to be fairly sceptical.

The second plan could be a restriction on year-on-year increases in club wage bills. While the Uefa?based model would take effect only after a few years, this soft wage cap would immediately slow down spending increases.

With new TV deals starting from next season, which should bring in more than £5.5bn from domestic and foreign markets, there is understandable concern from some clubs for the increased revenues not to go straight to the usual sources and for that new money to be protected.

The plans are not mutually exclusive and could theoretically both be passed. The Premier League constitution demands 14 of the 20 votes to pass a motion. If enough sceptics can be persuaded, the financial landscape of English football could change.

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