The Fifa president, Gianni Infantino, has admitted salary caps may be necessary to restructure football’s finances in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The suspension of games, the curtailment of leagues and the absence of paying spectators will affect the profitability of all but the biggest clubs and Infantino feels this could be a time for the game to step back and reflect. After inviting member associations to submit their views on possible ways forward Infantino says he was struck by the need for clearer and stricter financial regulations.
“I heard some interesting proposals on a wide range of topics,” the president said. “From salary caps to transfer-fee caps or other taxation mechanisms, to the possible obligation of governing bodies to contribute to a reserve fund which can be of assistance in hours of need such as now. Fifa is already doing a lot of work in this area, even if we face some strong vested interests who fight against our plea for better governance. These measures, projects and ideas should be discussed at all levels.
“I know that this will spark intense debate, but debate is healthy and we should speak about it as we stand together in this difficult period.”
Infantino also promised to look into the number of matches top players are asked to play each season and the harmonising of competitions between continents.
Since most club managers hold Fifa largely responsible for the excessive demands on their players, few will expect a streamlining of the season any time soon, though the financial difficulties presently facing clubs are real and whenever football returns to something like normal, calls for a fairer distribution of income will be hard to ignore.
Salary caps bring their own problems but with the likelihood of clubs going out of business their appeal is obvious. Tottenham have just taken out a £175m bank loan to help cope with loss of income through cancelled crowd events at their new stadium, but smaller clubs are not in such a fortunate position.
“The need for top club football to resume has understandably taken priority, but we must also consider national teams, women’s football, lower-tier domestic leagues, youth and the grassroots game,” Infantino said. “We have to show unity across all aspects of football.”
Spurs are scheduled to play their first game back against Manchester United on 19 June and Project Restart had another boost on Saturday after zero positives were found from a total of 1,195 players and club staff tested on Thursday and Friday.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær has confirmed Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba are fit and should be available to face Spurs. “Marcus and Paul are back and so are Eric Bailly and Scott McTominay,” the United manager said.
“We’ve had time out, so I don’t think we can expect the lads who have missed lots of football to last the full game. Being able to use five substitutes and have nine players on the bench will be helpful, though.
“After such a long time out we can’t flog players by using them every game and every minute, this might be a period when we have to rotate quite often.”