x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Pay cap urged by Abramovich

Chelsea's billionaire owner is alarmed by the huge salary increases in the Premier League.

LONDON // Roman Abramovich, the Chelsea owner, wants to see a salary cap introduced to world football in an effort to control the spiralling wages of the game's leading players.

The billionaire Russian businessman is alarmed by the wage inflation that saw Wayne Rooney increase his pay by 50 per cent last week after a public threat to exit Manchester United.

Though Abramovich contributed to the extraordinary escalation of footballer's remuneration by spending around £700 million (Dh4.1 billion) on buying Chelsea and equipping them with the Premier League's most expensive playing staff, he has sought to limit his funding of the club in recent years.

Abramovich is a strong supporter of Uefa's Financial Fair Play regulations which are designed to prevent European clubs from spending more than their revenue on player salaries and other costs.

In addition to Uefa's accounting controls - which will result in heavy loss-making clubs being excluded from European competition from the 2013/14 season - the Russian is in favour of a formal cap being placed on wage bills.

Bruce Buck, the Chelsea chairman, confirmed the club's support for a salary cap.

"We would seriously consider a wage cap. It has to be properly implemented," said Buck, who feels the cap should be at least Europe-wide to ensure that the game's top performers are not encouraged to leave the Premier League.

Chelsea unilaterally cut their wage bill last summer, shedding more than £25m in salaries by releasing or selling five senior internationals - Michael Ballack, Deco, Ricardo Carvalho, Joe Cole and Juliano Belletti. Those and other cost-cutting measures combined with significantly improved sponsorship and a kit supply deal with Adidas worth £20m a year until 2018 will bring the club closer to breaking even for the first time in the Abramovich era.

Chelsea declared a loss of £44.4m in their last set of accounts, covering the financial year to June 2009.

Consistent with Chelsea's new stance on salaries is the club's refusal to involve themselves in an auction for Rooney's services that developed over the past three months. Abramovich was alerted to the England forward's availability as he sought an unprecedented pay rise to £7m a year after tax, which is 40 per cent for Britain's highest earners. The club, however, would not countenance breaking their current wage structure which maintains Frank Lampard and John Terry as top earners on £150,000 a week.

Meanwhile, Chelsea are close to losing a second of their expensively acquired youth signings. Fabio Borini, the Italy Under 21 striker, has joined Gael Kakuta in refusing to extend a contract that expires at the end of this season. Like Kakuta - who has cost Chelsea well over £5m in wages and compensation following his illegal recruitment from RC Lens, the French side - Borini was promoted to the first-team squad this season, but is free to sign a pre-contract with foreign clubs in January. Italian sides AC Milan, Juventus and Sampdoria are interested in taking him for a Fifa-mandated fee of €270,000 (Dh1.37m).