Even Bundesliga billionaires consider salary cap

March 11, 2009

The credit crunch is biting into German soccer, with teams starting to consider the idea of salary caps to further reduce annual running costs.

It was Bayern Munich manager Uli Hoeness who first warned some time ago that the financial downturn would hit Bundesliga clubs, especially mid-table ones, who would not be able to balance their budgets. Now Bayer Leverkusen sports director Rudi Voeller and, more surprisingly, Hoffenheim billionaire backer Dietmar Hopp have come out in favour of salary caps.

Salary caps, financial limits on the total amount spent on players’ wages, already exist in all professional sports leagues in the United States.

“I hope there will be an upper limit for players’ wages,” Voeller, who earned the best money of his long career in Italy and France. “We have reached the top limit.”

Hopp has poured just under 200 million euros into Hoffenheim to help bring the club from the lower regional divisions to the Bundesliga. The tycoon has turned them into title contenders and built a new stadium as well, but even he said contracts were now too high.

“What players earn is too much. If this crisis continues we will go under,” Hopp said after admitting that his shares had lost value worth about 2 billion euros in the stock market fall.

Germany has been hit hard by the crisis and while its clubs have always been less exuberant than their Italian, Spanish or English counterparts, they could soon decide to spend even less.

Several clubs have hinted they would look into reducing salaries from next year. It may sound bad for the quality of football but isn’t it ultimately better for the sport’s social responsibility?

PHOTO: The boot of TSG Hoffenheim’s Sejad Salihovic lies on top of the net during their Bundesliga match at VfB Stuttgart Feb. 21, 2009. REUTERS/Thomas Bohlen

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