The A-League salary cap could be abolished and transfer fees finally permitted between clubs as part of a new collective bargaining agreement due to come into effect next year.
Dramatic changes to the competition’s “contractual architecture” will be on the table as part of a full review of the current CBA, which expires at the end of this coming season.
A working group featuring representatives from the A-League clubs, Football Federation Australia and Professional Footballers Australia has been formed to discuss all possibilities.
The A-League has had a salary cap since its inception but there is a growing view that it isn’t fulfilling its intended purposes — equalising the competition and ensuring clubs stay within their financial means.
Similarly, intra-league transfer fees have been prohibited since the A-League’s inception.
The recent introduction of loan moves for players under the age of 23 — which allowed Daniel De Silva to make his long-awaited shift from Central Coast to Sydney FC — is seen as the first step towards a full-blown domestic transfer system like in most other countries, where clubs exchange fees to sign players on a permanent basis.
The Mariners were determined not to release De Silva to a rival for free, which many A-League clubs often end up doing when faced with a wantaway player under the current CBA.
“All those things will be on the table and decided in the next nine months so that the new CBA has had all those matters laid before it, reviewed and agreed or disagreed,” A-League chief Greg O’Rourke told AAP.
PFA chief executive John Didulica said the players’ union would push for the salary cap to be dismantled and for transfers between A-League clubs to be allowed, saying it was in the “best interests” of the competition and the sport in Australia.
Didulica believes it would help slow the high churn rate of players in the A-League and also encourage clubs to sign young talent on longer-term contracts.
“Our position will be that the salary cap does more harm to the game in this country than good,” Didulica told AAP.
“What we’re seeing is so many young players signed to short-term deals — more than 50 percent of players under the age of 21 are signed for one year.
“We’ve just got to reassess the entire contracting architecture so that we can allow players to grow and develop, so clubs are incentivised to invest in players, and then allow clubs to build value in their rosters.”