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Thursday, 21 November, 2002, 10:52 GMT
If the cap fits
Nottingham Forest and Crewe in action
ITV Digital's demise has forced clubs to make cuts

Football's glamour clubs are not the only ones to be affected by the financial chill which has swept through the game in recent months.

Last week the G14 group of Europe's movers and shakers introduced a much-needed dose of sanity by agreeing in principle to adopt a salary cap.

On Thursday it was the turn of the Nationwide League to decide to put a limit on the percentage of a club's annual turnover which can go towards paying players.


People have buried their heads in the sand for too long
Man Utd chief executive Peter Kenyon

While clubs like Real Madrid have recognised the need to trim a wage bill which includes Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo and Ronaldo, England's smaller clubs also know changes must be made.

One player from First Division side Watford, for example, is reported to have been paid more than Manchester United's David Beckham last season.

The collapse of the ITV Digital deal has left many lower division clubs in desperate financial trouble.

Several have been forced to go into administration, with others like Bradford and Watford asking their players to take a wage cut to avoid a similar fate.

"The reality today is that there are clubs who are in administration. Fact," said Manchester United chief executive Peter Kenyon.

"People have buried their heads in the sand for too long. You have to deal with these things and manage them constructively."

That principle led the G14 sides - including Man United - to agree to impose a limit of 70% of turnover to be spent on players' wages.

Real Madrid's Zinedine Zidane
Clubs from Madrid to Mansfield are feeling the pinch

The Nationwide League working party - headed by QPR chairman David Davies - proposed a 60% limit, which was overwhelmingly approved by Nationwide League chairmen.

"Our aim is to ensure that clubs are limited to spending only what they can afford," said Davies.

"It is essential that we take action before it is too late, as spiralling player costs should not be allowed to threaten the viability of our clubs."

The biggest problem facing the clubs is persuading their players to sacrifice their own income for the good of the game.

But even the Professional Footballers Association, which was initially opposed to the proposal, has indicated that it coud back wage limits if it means improving clubs' financial situations.

"There are too many clubs who are technically bust, and that is not healthy for the long-term success of the sport," added Kenyon.

"We fundamentally believe in this industry, but we have to accept that over the last few years the cost of running a football team has increased dramatically, and that level of increase cannot be allowed to continue."


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