Local Football

Opinion: Building a financially responsible and competitive league from the ground up.

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It’s less than a month now until a new season of professional football will be upon us. Starting a league is no easy task, but as the excitement builds up towards the return of the pro league, let me share to you how my ideal league would look like for a country slowly building it’s interest to the beautiful game.

 

First and foremost, the long term financial stability of the league has to be secured, and one way to do that is to have a Salary Cap. Salary Caps can be found in most sports albeit in different forms. The English Football League implements a Cap dependent on a team’s turnover. A club’s turnover is it’s gross income, and English clubs from the Championship down to League 2 are not allowed to spend salaries beyond a certain percentage of it’s turnover.  But the Salary Cap I want the PPL (Philippine Premier League) to follow is not the English one, but the one being used by our neighbor down under.

Australia’s Hyundai A League has adopted the Salary Cap since it’s inception. It’s loosely based on the US MLS’ ( Major League Soccer) model. But what is the purpose of a cap? It’s basically a safety measure to ensure that A League clubs only spend within their means to minimize the risk of clubs folding because of financial irresponsibility.

 

“The Salary Cap facilitates competitive balance and parity between Clubs by ensuring that the playing talent is distributed amongst the Hyundai A-League Clubs. In doing so, this increases the attraction of the competition to fans, sponsors and broadcast partners.

The Salary Cap also safeguards the economic viability of the Hyundai A-League by ensuring that Clubs are not put in a position where they are forced to spend beyond their financial capabilities in order to stay competitive on the field.”

 

With that being said, how can the PPL follow the A League and MLS’ example? We could add our own twist to the salary cap to cater to our market here. The first thing to think about with regards to the cap is the players salary, here’s an example we could use.

All figures will be minimum unless stated, gross amounts (taxes not included), non inclusive of bonuses on performance targets, etc.

16-18 local: 3 years, 25k (25k x 13 months)

19+ local: 3 years, 5 years max 30k (30k x 13)

Pinoy Max contracts: 2 years, 300k, subject to conditions

Foreign contracts: 1 year, 60k to 300k max, Max subject to conditions

A soft cap of 2.5m per month would be a good start. The cap could gradually increase every year depending on the league office.

A Maximum of 20% overspend over the cap will be allowed. For teams over the cap, there will be a luxury tax Up to 10% overcap: 0.10 for every 1 Peso over the cap, 10.01-15% overcap: 0.15/every Peso overcap, 15.01-20%: 0.20/ every Peso + Flat 200k fine for every year that a club is overcapped. The fine will be evenly distributed to every club that is not overspending by more than 10% of the cap.

“But why bother with these complicated rules? The free market is better!”

Just because it’s been there longer doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better. Most clubs outside of the top domestic divisions in Europe are in debt because of unchecked spending. The current FFP or Financial Fair Play rules have done little to ensure the small club’s financial stability. The free spending has also removed any form of parity in Europe’s top leagues. Winners are mostly decided based on who can spend more and buy the best players. Having a salary cap will force teams to be smart with their player acquisitions. General Managers will have to wheel and deal to be able to construct the best team possible while still being compliant to the salary cap.

It wouldn’t hurt if the league tries and tap into familiar territory.

The PFL was a mixed bag. It was a success for the reason that it was the first fully professional football league in the country. The country was represented by teams as far north as Ilocos to down south in Davao. But logistical problems arised by the time of the second season. With Ilocos United folding, and Global FC having to forfeit games because they could not travel to opponents home stadiums. Playing in a single/ and or select venues can alleviate the expenses teams will incur compared to playing home and away. The PBA, the oldest professional Basketball league in Asia does it. I know the 2 sports are different but it’s the most feasible solution in our current landscape.

Another thing I think we need to bring back is the playoffs. Having the playoffs is part of our sporting DNA. From Basketball to Volleyball, most of the widely played sports in our country all have post season knock out rounds. Now we can’t discount the team that tops the table at the end of the season, there should be a trophy for both the winner of the playoffs and the the winner of the regular season. In a way, we can get our AFC Cup participants from said winners. The playoffs is not alien to the sport of football. Europe has it in the form of promotion/relegation playoffs. Teams in North and South America have it as well. The excitement of the knockout rounds could prove beneficial in bringing butts into the seats come post season. Pinoys love their knockout games.

In essence, deviating from the norm is not always a bad thing, changing how we run things in our league could prove to be exciting and beneficial in the long run. It might not please the “purists”, but like the saying goes, “the only thing constant in this world is change”.

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