It is no secret that the salary cap hasn�t worked as well as was intended. In 2002 The Canterbury Bulldogs lost all of their competition points bar the four that they were awarded for the two byes. More recently, the Warriors were deducted for a breach that the new owners reported � a breach that occured before their time in charge.
The intention of the Salary Cap is simply to ensure a fair spread of talent amongst the clubs and to stop clubs spending beyond their means. This ideal has not been all that easy to achieve and will continue this way until a more satisfactory solution is found.
The consensus among the general public is that the problem lies with the perceived small salary cap. Is it small? I think it is, but then that is only my opinion. While the game�s elite players can demand contracts worth several hundred thousand dollars per a season, the majority of players struggle to win 6 figure contracts.
So then, the real problem in fixing the salary cap is to allow clubs to pay players what they see them as being worth without advantaging the richer clubs. This is no easy feat considering that a club who is allowed to pay a player more than what any other club can has an unfair advantage.
Let me now put forward some possible solutions.
1. The points system: The NRL would be responsible for rating each player at the start of each season. The elite players would be rated the highest while fringe players would receive the lower ratings. For example, Andrew Johns, who is viewed by many as the world�s best player, would be among the very highest rated players. These points ratings would then have to fit under a points cap rather than a salary cap.
I then propose that we use this system: Top 25 (as is currently the way) 100,000 points. 15,000 point cap per player. Players may be paid whatever the club wishes to spend.
A slight improvement with a fairer talent spread regulated by the NRL. Money is still a problem in that it does not prevent clubs from spending beyond their means.
2. The concession system: Under this system, the only change is that loyalty is rewarded with salary concessions. Juniors receive a starting bonus while players remaining with a club longer than 2 years also receive a bonus.
I propose the system would work as such: A club junior has a starting position of 1.2 rather than the 1.0 that a player starts on after signing with a new club. If a player moves then comes back, his starting position will not revert to 1.2 � it will default to 1.0. For each year that a player remains at the club after the initial 2 year period has passed, his rating increases by 0.1. The rating is capped at 2.0
The rating allows the club to pay players their market value multiplied by the rating. This extra money does not count towards the salary cap � just market value. Take, for example, a player on $100,000 a season who has been with the club since he was a junior and is in his 5th year. He is on a starting rate of 1.2. Because it is his fifth year, he is now in his third year past the mandatory 2 year period to start gaining bonus points. So he would now hold a rating of 1.5. The club can now pay him $150,000 yet only have $100,000 count towards the salary cap.
This improves on the current long term concessions the NRL currently has in place where the player receives the concession after 10 years of service. It is better simply because it will lessen the incentive for clubs to throw wads of cash at players to lure them to the club. Further, it limits the spending of clubs to twice the regular salary cap.
I would not like to see the draft brought in as it infringes on the rights of players to choose where the live. What is more, who wants to have an unhappy player who is playing unhappy football? What I would like to see is a salary cap that is regulated by the NRL with all payments being made through a centralised NRL body.
Only when the objectives of the salary cap are enforced, will we see an improved competition.