In a salary capped league every team has an even squad, and anyone is capable of winning the championship. Right? Wrong.

I understand that just about every professional sport in this country has a salary cap, and that can be linked to larger Australian qualities – mateship and giving everyone a ‘fair go’. However, for the A-League, that is no longer a necessity, nor is it working.

The salary cap is a very idealistic approach to keeping a competition even, and just a quick look at the last couple of seasons in the A-League proves as much. Last season Sydney FC dominated the competition and finished 14 points on top of the table, and the season before won the league by 17 points, losing just one game in the process.

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Then at the other end of the spectrum, the Central Coast Mariners are soon to become the worst side in A-League history, winning just one match in 2018, and on the cusp of equalling the league’s largest losing streak of 11, set by the now-folded New Zealand Knights.

The question we must ask ourselves is why? Why in a league where every team gets the same amount of money to spend is the competition so lopsided?

Part of that is some clubs don’t spend the salary cap – in fact in previous seasons the Central Coast Mariners have barely spent the salary floor (the minimum a side can spend). To be fair to the Mariners, this season they have invested the full cap, but the pain of not spending the cap in previous seasons is still having an impact.

Another variable under a capped league are the coaches, which also has an impact.

But another factor is a result of marquee players being exempt from the salary cap. For me, this is both good and bad. It’s good news because it brings some quality into the league. But it is bad because it makes the salary cap essentially pointless.

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Another downside to a salary capped league means some players have to leave because clubs can no longer pay their rising value. We’ve seen some very talented players leave as a result. Leroy George and Adrian Mierzejewski are the first names that come to mind. Both players left the league as their respective clubs were able to pay their wages, just not under the salary cap.

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The salary cap by design is meant to limit each team, but that limitation has gone on for too long now and it is hampering the growth of the A-League. The competition has been stale for a few seasons, with attendances and television audiences declining. We see recycled players entering and leaving the A-League because clubs have nowhere left to turn.

If the salary cap was to be abandoned, the possibilities for a club are endless. Obviously, there isn’t as much money in Australian football to attract the Oscar’s or Carlos Tevez’s like there is in China, but it might help bring in more Mierzejewski’s or Leroy George’s. With that comes more competitive teams in the AFC Champions League. With that comes even more money and recognition within Asia that Australian football is growing, and the ability to compete with the J-League, K-League and Chinese Super League, and competing with our neighbouring leagues should be our ultimate goal, surely?

From there the standard of the competition must rise to match the teams at the front. With better imports, young Australians can learn and develop their game from the Keisuke Honda’s of the A-League. From that the national team has a larger, more talented selection pool and then we eventually go on to win a World Cup.

OK, that last part is extremely idealistic, but my point remains – abandoning the salary cap could prove great for the A-League and Australian football.

Admittedly, some teams who already struggle financially may continue to find it hard to compete. However, those teams are already falling behind the pack as it is, so surely raising the standard of the league and imports would be an overall positive?

Clubs like the Mariners may even improve outside of a salary capped league as they would have to spend more than the salary floor to remain competitive. An injection of cash into every club in the league wouldn’t be a bad thing.

I agree that when the A-League was launched a salary cap was needed. But like a tight cap restricting blood to the brain, the A-League’s salary cap is restricting football in this country.

To quote the great Martin Luther King, ‘I have a dream’. A dream than one day no club shall be restricted by a salary cap. That one day the league won’t be held down, and will instead rise and show its true potential. So, let freedom ring, my friends. Let freedom ring.

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Media student at Macquarie University. Loves everything football (well, except Italian's diving since '06).