Salary cap can end wage 'madness', says West Ham's David Sullivan

Posted Thursday, February 04, 2010 by

Salary cap can end wage 'madness', says West Ham's David Sullivan
West Ham's David Sullivan is warming to the idea of an American football-style salary cap in the Premier League.

West Ham United's co-owner David Sullivan has reignited the debate over a salary cap in the Premier League, saying it may be the only solution to the "madness" of current top-flight wages.

Sullivan, who along with David Gold bought 50% of West Ham last month for £52.5m, said the salaries were "bad for football" and hit out at the imbalance created by the spending power of the ­billionaire owners of Manchester City and Chelsea.

"Maybe the ultimate solution would be a salary cap," said Sullivan. "I've always been against it but I'm starting to swing towards it, as they have in American football. Other than that I just don't see an end to it – of wages out of all proportion to the turnover of the clubs. Somehow there should be some sort of control."

Sullivan's comments are certain to raise an eyebrow following the Hammer's audacious bid to secure the services of the ­Holland and Real Madrid striker Ruud van Nistelrooy for £100,000 a week last month. After that attempt failed, West Ham were able to land the Egyptian striker Mido on loan from Middlesbrough with a wage deal of just £1,000 a week. "Mido … doesn't need the money but he wants to prove something in England, so he is willing to play for £1,000 a week," Sullivan said earlier this week.

The West Ham co-chairman said he only invested in the club because he was a supporter, describing its financial situation as a "serious mess" which be blamed on "the crazy wages the Icelandics [the previous owners] were paying".

Sullivan, speaking to the BBC News Hardtalk programme, said players were looking to maximise income in their relatively short careers. "Players are driven by their agents – some are very nice people, some are greedy," he said.

"There's no loyalty to the local club or the club they play for. Most of them will just move, particularly foreign players, for more money. You've got to take the players off the pedestal and realise they are employees. They're doing a job every supporter would like to be doing and they have to give something back to the badge."

Sullivan also reiterated his fear that a ­Premier League club could go into administration this season. "It's possible that a club, where their football debts exceed the value of the club, would cease to exist," he said.

"There are many other clubs who have very, very heavily borrowed against future television income. It gives them a one-off lift but then you have to keep borrowing and borrowing in the future. And if you're relegated it's a disaster because your television money is halved. Everyone is terrified of being relegated and the parachute payment probably isn't big enough. As a result they spend every penny they've got on players to keep them in the division."

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