Are Perth Glory the only A-League side operating above the salary cap? Football Federation Australia (FFA) would say yes, however if all clubs were audited there wouldn't be much surprise if more clubs were exposed.
It is clear that the FFA Salary Cap reporting process is flawed. The Glory have been accused of breaching the cap for the past 3 seasons. The non reporting of motor vehicle, accommodation and player agent costs is an easy way to reduce total player payments. The way these costs are accounted for dictates if they fall inside or outside the cap. Is a $40,000 payment to a player agent classed as a sign on fee or is the agent paid as a scout? Has FBT of $20,000 correctly been included on an international players accommodation where the club pays the rent? A club sponsor provides a motor vehicle as part of their sponsorship package which a player uses at no cost to club or player. All of a sudden if these amounts are not recorded correctly the club is potentially $70,000 over the reported amount.
As far as I am aware the FFA's level of TPP auditing is minimal. In Perth's case it was only commenced following a tip off from a disgruntled former employee. There is of course a big difference between honest reporting mistakes and deliberate salary cap rorting. This season the Glory are accused of operating at around $400,000 over the cap due to payments to players family members and other alleged deliberate cap avoidance measures. Maybe because the Glory had avoided detection for the past 2 years they thought they would give it a proper go this year. By all reports they almost got away with it!
If the Glory thought they could get away with it then who else is thinking the same? There are other teams in the league with playing rosters that on paper don't add up. How the Victory can fit Finkler, Khalfallah, Del Pierre and Barbarouses under the cap along with their host of quality Australian players is a mystery. Everyone wants to see the A-League grow and quality players brought to the league however the integrity of the salary cap must be maintained. There is room for superstar foreign players and Australian champions using the marquee system but clubs need to be smarter with how they develop young Australian players rather than recycled players who demand a bigger wage.
Although under resourced surely it is time for the FFA to start performing more stringent cap audits. As the game grows there is more and more at stake, the rewards become greater and so do the risks that clubs are willing to take.
This season sees 5 clubs, 4 if the Glory sanction is upheld, fighting it out for the Premiers Plate, culminating in a thrilling final 2 rounds where every match is crucial. The salary cap plays a key role in this equality but it only works when everyone plays by the rules!