Australians may drop salary cap for clubs in ACL

The A-League is reportedly moving away from its salary cap in the off-season to allow its two clubs participating in the Asian Champions League greater depth of players. Currently the eight Australian-franchised clubs are restricted to a A$1.6 million limit in assembling their 23-man squads. According to Michael Cockerill in the Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney FC and Adelaide United will be facing teams with squads of 30 and "playing budget 10 times that of the Australian champions." With only two rounds to go before the A-League final series, Sydney FC is struggling with 17 players because they have already exceeded the salary cap,

Sydney FC captain, Mark Rudan believes Football Federation Australia needs to relax the salary cap if Australian clubs are to give a good account of themselves in Asia. "We're competing against teams who have 35 or 40 players in their squads, who spend millions on wages, and we really need to get the FFA right behind us," he said. "It's going to be hard enough to get players who will be willing to come for maybe only six [ACL] games, let alone having to worry about staying within the salary cap. To me, they are two completely different competitions and should be treated as such. To get the best out of Sydney, we can't be filling our extra spots with state league players. We need to get decent players in … and they won't come unless we can offer them proper wages."

"Significantly," commented Cockerill, "the FFA looks almost certain to permit both Sydney and Adelaide to exceed their salary cap restrictions for the ACL campaign - which starts in early March. That will enable both clubs to recruit players on high-end wages for at least the group stage before rejigging their rosters when the salary cap is reinforced for next season's A-League." However the Asian Football Confederation rules state that the deadline to register players for the ACL is 10 February.