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FFA ready to make salaries for every A-League player public next season

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In the wake of yet another salary cap scandal dogging Australian sport, Football Federation Australia is ready to make the A-League the first competition in this country to make public the wages of  its players.

The FFA has monitored the impact of the decision to do the same in North American sports and believes it has become a key flank of transparency in those competitions.

The idea has been canvassed around Whitlam Square for several years but the governing body will look to table the idea to various stakeholders in the weeks ahead, with a view to implementing the strategy next season.

Outgoing head of A-League Damien de Bohun says publishing the salaries of A-League players is an idea worth exploring – and believes it will help drive public interest in the sport.

“Fans are fascinated by every aspect of their club’s recruiting, tactics and results,” said de Bohun. “In a competition with a salary cap and squad limits, the actual salaries of players would be of enormous interest to fans.

“It’s a common feature of the Major League Soccer in the USA and drives a lot of interest, especially in the off-season transfer windows when clubs are active in the market.”

But while driving fan interest is one matter, the real benefit is that it makes cheating the salary cap harder, as clubs publishing abnormally low figures would be immediately outed.

“There may also be a regulatory benefit of having transparency of these numbers,” De Bohun said. “It would most likely add more confidence to the salary-cap system if salaries were published.”

The idea has been occasionally floated in AFL and NRL circles.

The under-seige Parramatta Eels have already been docked 12 points this season and are fighting to clear wages off their books to be under the cap in time for Friday night’s game against South Sydney.

The FFA has endured two major salary-cap breaches during the A-League’s first decade, with Sydney FC stripped of two competition points and fined $129,000 in December 2007 before Perth Glory’s excessive rorting was exposed last year, leading to its expulsion from the finals and a $269,000 fine.

Under the model employed by the MLS, every player’s salary is made public regardless of  what they are paid.

Visible are the wages paid in 2015 to the likes of ex-Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, who earns $US6.33 million ($8.61 million) at LA Galaxy, as well as Italian international Sebastian Giovinco ($9.69m), Brazilian legend Kaka (A$9.76 million), Chelsea icon Frank Lampard ($8.16 million) and Irish forward Robbie Keane ($6.12 million).

Also shown are the many players earning the minimum wage, which stands at $US50,000 ($68,000).

But the idea may meet some resistance with Professional Footballers Australia, which said it would await a formal approach from the governing body before taking a stand.

“The PFA is yet to be presented with any proposal from FFA regarding the publishing of A-League player salaries,” a spokesperson told Fairfax Media.

“The introduction of such measures would obviously require the consent of the players.”

© 2016 The Sydney Morning Herald | This article was written by Sebastian Hassett and first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald on 11 May 2016.

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