‘A really bad thing for players’: views on the Football League salary cap | Football

The players

Omar Beckles, 28, free agent, turned down two-year contract extension at Shrewsbury

I wrestled with the idea of saying no to something at a time when there is a crisis but I just felt it was time to move on. As much as the cap is a good thing for clubs, I think it’s a really bad thing for players. I think the Professional Footballers’ Association need to hammer home that they object to what’s been put in place, and I think they are. The idea of the cap is to save clubs but they have neglected players and the side-effect will be a lot of players potentially unemployed or dropping into non-league, mental health being affected, and it’s scary times because they have made a decision without really thinking about the consequences. It has been unsettling. If teams are going to cut squads and utilise loanees more, I think players around my age will potentially look into lower leagues. I would hate to think players would leave the game – I hate to think it would be that extreme – but it might force their hand. Will players pursue different options, going abroad, and so on? Most definitely.

Craig Mackail-Smith, 36, free agent, released by Wycombe

Teams are looking at the salary cap, when crowds can come back and how they are going to cope financially, and I think they are all just waiting to see where they stand and how they can build their squads. Everyone is umming and aahing. When clubs are limited with their budget, they are obviously going to cut their cloth accordingly. A club that might normally go out to get two or three players might only be able to get one. There might not be as many transfers and teams might just have to stick with the squads they’ve got. It’s also going to create a massive gap between the Championship and League One and League Two. I still feel I’ve got a lot to offer.

The agent

Phil Korklin, Momentum Sports Management

Now clubs are saying: ‘Look, we’ve only got this amount in the budget: like it or lump it.’ For most players out of contract, clubs have a lot more power to say: ‘We’re offering you this and if you don’t take it, we’ll just go and sign somebody else.’ I think it is definitely a power shift. We’ve had a lot of contact from agents in Europe who are looking at the English market and players potentially moving abroad. There is definitely a closer eye being kept on the lower divisions here and whether players would be up for moving across. We have moved Christian Burgess from Portsmouth to a great club in Belgium, Royale Union Saint-Gilloise, and there will be a few more like that, I think. It is making people realise there is a lot more football than just on these shores. Now players will look at leagues such as the Scottish Premier League as a very viable option; it doesn’t have a salary cap – some clubs can afford to pay a lot more than others – but it offers another avenue and if you’re good enough English teams will come and buy you again. It will be very interesting to see over three or four years if players do start to look to go abroad earlier, younger, or maybe go into non-league and then come back up.

Christian Burgess (left) has joined Royale Union Saint-Gilloise, and more lower-league players than usual may go abroad. Photograph: Dave Shopland/BPI/REX/Shutterstock

The owner

Andy Holt, Accrington Stanley

There had to be some controls on this Wild West that has been football. A salary cap was absolutely essential. If we carried on with clubs going bust, there is no doubt the government would get involved and, before you know it, there would be regulation all over football because we can’t have a situation where clubs keeping getting into trouble and not paying wages. Something had to stop the madness because the regulation up until now has not been strong enough and it has been a disaster. You’ve seen Bury, Bolton – it’s everywhere you look, clubs are really struggling. It is affecting the transfer market. We make an offer and if we don’t get the player, we look elsewhere. But we have always operated like that because I wouldn’t operate any other way. John Coleman, our manager, has a fixed budget, he can spend it how he wants but when he has spent it, that’s that. But it is really difficult to keep the costs reined in when all around you aren’t, forever outbidding each other to increase costs. The Championship is like an arms race. Football will take every penny you can give it, no matter what your budget is. It can take another £2m off you if you’re prepared to let it. I get the PFA aren’t happy about wages being restricted but the truth is if clubs keep going bust and the EFL collapses, there will be no jobs for anybody.

Bury’s demise is cited by Accrington’s owner Andy Holt in his support for the cap.

Bury’s demise is cited by Accrington’s owner Andy Holt in his support for the cap. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

The chief executive

Andrew Parkinson, Plymouth Argyle

We were one of seven League One clubs to vote against the salary cap proposal. We are not against the principle of there being controls on costs and – our wage bill is line with the cap – but more the one-size-fits-all approach. We believe that it should, as with any business, be based on what you are able to generate in terms of revenue and do your business accordingly. We are not disappointed that they are trying to address what is a pretty big issue: generally too much cost and not enough revenue in the lower leagues. This coming season is a transition year so it will be next year when it really starts to bite. That will be when the levels will all need to be adjusted, and the following year as well. The big issue will be the disparity between the finances in League One and the Championship, because clearly your best players and even fringe players, if they are able to be attracted elsewhere, maybe will make a decision to go to another club, sit on the sidelines a bit but get paid [more].

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The manager

Darrell Clarke, Walsall

I think for the next 12-18 months the market is going to be very, very low. Players are going to have to take a lot, lot less in wages. I think it’s going to be a rude awakening for a lot of players. But I’m not sure if the salary cap will stick because the PFA are not happy with it, the League Managers Association are not happy with it and the agents aren’t happy with it. I think there will be a lot of challenges ahead. It is a bit of a touchy subject and I don’t believe people should be telling businesspeople how to run their football club, but obviously there has to be some sort of change. Portsmouth and Sunderland bring a lot more revenue compared with smaller clubs and some owners have more money than others. I think it a little bit messy – it has been a little bit rushed in – but looking at our own situation, it doesn’t affect us because we spend within our means. I’m fortunate Walsall is a very well-run club.

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