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Time for a salary cap? Would Chelsea or Manchester City be pleased?

With football's highest earner Samuel Eto'o's future up for discussion, and Chelsea among those linked, is it an opportune time to discuss whether a salary cap would work in football?

Salary caps - We've seen them work effectively in American sports like the NFL, NBA and NHL, for a very long time so is it time to ask the question - would they work in the Premier League?

Well first of all they would be very tricky to implement, for starters it would have to cover the whole of Europe and not just one nation, I'm not sure if the rich owners of PSG, Manchester City and Chelsea will be too pleased with being restricted in what they spend their money on. 

In the NFL, for example, each of the 32 teams have $123m that they can spend on player wages each year. If they go over that then penalties are incurred, anything from $5m to loss of draft picks. If for instance a team spends over the limit then that will count against them in the next season.

This allows each one of the teams to have the same amount of money to play with each year, the NFL hope that this would create a level playing field across the league and with the amount of different Super Bowl winners over the past decade, seven different champions, shows that it works.

Why couldn't a similar system be introduced in European football? If each team has the same amount to spend then it should be who is the best 11 on the field rather than who has the richest owner off it. It's something for the footballing authorities to consider as they bring in Financial Fair Play (FFP) into effect, this will surely go hand in hand with system, controlling the spending Europe's biggest clubs.

In 21 seasons of the Premier League there have been five winners (Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City, Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers). In the same time in other sports NBA? Eight NHL? 13 different winners and the NFL? 12 separate Super Bowl champions, the difference is telling. 

Recently we have seen a spate of football clubs facing financial crisis: Portsmouth, Coventry City, Malaga CF to name a few. This cap could eliminate an instance where a club might outspend their means, which more than often ends up in serious trouble.

It may not solve every problem and it may be tricky, in some people's views even impossible to implement, but it could go a long way to helping football experience more parity between the rich and the poor clubs.

image: © Raúl Hernández González

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