Sunday, May 20, 2007

Football Association, big spenders and shrewd decisions

A friend of mine brought up an excellent point that I thought needed to be addressed. According to the tenets listed on this site, salary caps restrict teams from fully realizing their earning potential and running their business as they wish. I still believe this to be true, but there certainly seems to be another facet to that statement in relation to what Travis discussed concerning the Football Association.

With free agency and a lack of a salary cap, the long-standing tradition of balance among English soccer teams is in jeopardy, and that is of obvious concern to the league. However, the treatment of players as permanently indentured servants is no longer that case, which is obviously positive to the rights of specific athletes. As much as owners want to pay players their market value, players want to be paid that market value. And, if owners want to be able to push for profit more than competitive balance, then they can sleep in the bed they make.

My point is, if the owners want to modernize their league and treat it more as a business than a competition where wins are the chief commodity, then they should go right ahead and do it. Whether or not it will end up paying them the dividends or happiness they desire remains to be seen. I imagine that the disparity between the lower-revenue and higher-revenue teams will balance in a similar manner that baseball does. To that effect, lower-revenue teams can find success through the development of young players and a smart approach to player signings (see Oakland Athletics, San Antonio Spurs, Minnesota Twins, Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers and, until the last few years, Portland Trail Blazers).

Of course, the Yankees (everyone's favorite Salary Satan) won several championships at the turn of the century, and since winning their last championship, their players salaries have increased by 175 percent, yielding two World Series losses and plenty of other playoff disappointments. Given, they are perennial contenders and make the playoffs every year, but George Steinbrenner is known for desiring wins at the cost of revenue. By spending more, he hasn't gotten what he really wants, and has gone about trying to succeed in a stupid manner. The St. Louis Cardinals, who spent less than half of the Yankees salary last year, won the World Series. In 2005, the White Sox had about 40 percent of the Yankees salary that year and won it all. In 2004, the Red Sox actually had a dip in player spending in relation to 2003 and 2005 and won it that year. The list goes on, but the point is this: you don't have to be the No. 1 big spender or even near the top to be a champion. The game fluctuates, and big spending isn't always a guarantee of success, shrewd moves are what makes a winner.

Honestly, the system that Major League Baseball has set up is a good one at its base level. There is a large amount of development that allows for lower revenue teams to compete by making smart decisions in drafting and player advancement.The Football Association may end up reflecting the MLB model, and that may not end up being such a bad thing for the league if they play their cards right. That is obviously the biggest question mark.

Reasonably yours,

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