Vote explained: Everything fans need to know as likes of Portsmouth, Sunderland and Ipswich get ready for critical wage cap call

The key vote to decide if a EFL wage cap will be implemented will take place on Friday.

Wednesday, 5th August 2020, 5:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th August 2020, 5:41 pm

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of a decision which will have huge ramifications for Pompey’s season.

What are clubs voting for?

League One and League Two sides are voting for the wage cap’s implementation at this stage. A cap has also been mooted for the Championship, but has not yet reached the stage where a vote will take place.

Sign up to our Portsmouth FC newsletter

League One clubs are voting for a ceiling of £2.5m on playing budgets with a £1.5m limit for League Two sides. This cap will be enforced for the 2020-21 season and as well as basic wages will include tax, National Insurance, medical costs, agents’ fees, appearance and win bonuses within it.

How will the vote take shape?

Unlike when clubs made a decision over a curtailed season and debated alternative proposals, this will be a straight yes or no vote to wage cap proposals forwarded by the EFL. Each division will be voting separately on the vote and a margin of 66 per cent is needed to carry the motion. That translates to 16 of the 24 sides in each division.

What happens to sides coming down with massive playing budgets at this level?

EFL League One logo. Picture: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

As long as players are contracted, they are treated as being paid the divisional average wage of £1,300 per week. That, of course, gives the likes of Wigan, Hull and Charlton and the bigger playing budgets in the division (Pompey’s is £4m) some leeway in a transitional period.

What happens to players signed before the vote?

Those players brought in before Friday will be seen as being on the divisional average wage. That’s why it was viewed as being important for Pompey to get some recruitment done and the signings of Lee Brown and Sean Raggett over the line. That takes their current eligible squad size to 19, with a limit of 22 players proposed. Players under the age 21 are exempt - meaning Haji Mnoga isn’t in that total.

How is this going to change things?

When it comes to recruitment, a wage cap is going to have a seismic impact on how clubs do business. Pompey can afford to pay transfer fees and splashed sizeable amounts to bring in the likes of Marcus Harness and John Marquis last summer, but what’s the chances of attracting players who command those figures and then only being able to offer contracts at a fraction of their existing deals? This is especially true of players in the Championship who will have to take massive wage cuts. Renegotiating to keep promising players, as was the case with Alex Bass and Ronan Curtis would be fraught with difficulty, too. It looks as if the loan market may offer the best value under a wage cap, with parent clubs contributing to wages.

What is Pompey’s position?

The Blues are in support of moves to implement ‘true sustainability’ in the English game, but they are vehemently opposed to the proposal on the table. Although acknowledging the need for change with clubs in financial crisis amid the coronavirus pandemic, they argue this is more about levelling the playing field in League One than sustainability - a fact rival clubs who generate less revenue are honest enough to admit.

So what’s going to happen?

The reality is the wage cap proposal currently on the table suits more clubs than it doesn’t in the lower divisions. Not only that, it takes away the inherent strength of outfits with strong support bases and revenue streams like Pompey, Sunderland and Ipswich at this level. As we’ve seen previously when it comes to these issues, teams unsurprisingly vote on the basis of self-interest. That points towards the wage cap being voted through, although the Blues will hope the prospect of legal recourse from the likes of the Professional Footballers’ Association can enforce a delay on the cap’s implementation.

A message from the editor

Thank you for reading this story. The dramatic events of 2020 are having a major impact on our advertisers and thus our revenues.

The News is more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription to support our journalism. You can subscribe here for unlimited access to Portsmouth news and information online.

Every subscription helps us continue providing trusted, local journalism and campaign on your behalf for our city.