Future Football

German football, and the salary cap conversation

DFL supremo Christian Seifert believes a 'future of football' conversation needs to involve managing what players are paid

11:00am on Tuesday 12th May 2020
Team FC

DFL boss Christian Seifert is convinced that the introduction of a salary cap needs to be a serious consideration, as football looks to restructure after the coronavirus crisis.

Some of the top clubs in the world have asked their players either to agree to a salary cut or deferral, during this period without action and with revenue at a premium.

With most major clubs in Europe operating at a wage-to-turnover ratio at a minimum of 60% and in many cases much more, salaries have become a key liability and one that absorbs most of the revenue generated by ever-increasing commercial relationships, broadcast deals and matchday receipts.

With Germany having largely dealt with the coronavirus crisis with efficiency so far, the Bundesliga looks set to be one of the first top-tier divisions to attempt a return to action in the next few weeks.

But in an interview with publication Kicker, Seifert is desperate to ensure that football doesn't attempt to return to what was deemed normal before, and he believes that despite EU opposition to any doctrine, the issue of spiralling player salaries has to be addressed.

He said: "It is not at all easy to have a discussion about possible undesirable developments in a system that has been as successful as professional football in recent years.

"90 percent of stadiums [are] sold out, stable [TV] ratings in an eroding media landscape and an unbroken demand for sponsors. If a system gets so many positive responses, it may even need a real crisis, to pause to check.

But if we now have the courage and perseverance to think about changes in professional football and to make them over a long distance, something positive can emerge from this crisis.

"I have already been contacted and threatened with a personal lawsuit if I am in this committee would vote for a limitation of the consultant fees. Signed by very prominent player consultants."Christian Seifert

"It's about player salaries, shamelessly displayed wealth, transfer fees and consultants who collect millions for a model employment contract that you can download from the Internet with us. We need solutions that support everyday life."

Seifert is well aware that the EU have already opposed the concept of a salary cap. It's an idea that has been proposed for some time and has always been shelved because of red tape.

But the CEO believes this time is different, because it's no longer an option, rather a necessity.

He added: "The EU would have to signal that it wants to regulate this special branch, which football is, accordingly. For years this has been unenforceable in European legal framework, but this crisis should also be an opportunity.

"In some European countries, for example, there is already a limitation of consultant fees, in others not. This must now be regulated in a European context, but the political will must be there."

And he knows that will be the hardest part. Once a development in football is crystallised it can be hugely difficult to roll it back. Players and agents are quite content with the current arrangement. Seifert would face serious opposition - he already has.

"There will be great resistance; consultants from Germany would immediately start to contest this plan.

"I have already been contacted and threatened with a personal lawsuit if I am in this committee would vote for a limitation of the consultant fees. Signed by very prominent player consultants."

But Seifert is adamant. This is the new normal. There is no option to go back to before.

He concludes: "The last thing in every board meeting was: What do we learn from this crisis, what do we have to do about it.

"The list grows longer with each session. We don't just want to get through the crisis somehow and then continue as before."

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