Saturday, 20 Apr 2024

League One and League Two Salary Cap Abolished: A Victory for Players’ Union

league one salary

The English Football League has been compelled to abandon its controversial salary cap in League One and League Two after the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) successfully challenged its legality. An independent arbitration panel ruled in favor of the PFA, stating that the cap was “unlawful and unenforceable.” While clubs initially voted to implement salary caps of £1.5m in League Two and £2.5m in League One, they will now revert to rules that tie player-related expenditure to turnover. The imposition of such caps resulted in the collapse of Bury Football Club. However, discussions between the EFL and the PFA are expected to take place to seek a cost-saving solution in light of the current Covid-19 crisis.

The PFA’s Impactful Appeal

The PFA argued that the EFL hastily introduced the salary caps without proper consultation or consideration. The panel upheld the PFA’s claim, ruling that the EFL breached the constitution of the Professional Football Negotiating and Consultative Committee (PFNCC). The PFNCC’s constitution explicitly states that significant changes affecting a player’s terms and conditions of employment should only occur after thorough discussion and agreement within the committee. The panel’s decision marks a significant victory for the PFA in protecting players’ rights.

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A Way Forward

Although the salary cap has been scrapped, discussions between clubs and the PFA will continue to address the urgent need for financial stability during the ongoing pandemic. While some clubs were on the brink of collapse, they recognize the PFA’s concerns about implementing a “hard” salary cap. It is crucial to find a balanced approach that ensures clubs can manage costs effectively without hindering their ability to compete fairly.

Perspectives from Club Officials

Mark Catlin, the chief executive of Portsmouth, expressed his reservations about the one-size-fits-all approach of the salary cap, stating that the goal was to achieve self-sustainability for clubs. He argued that a blunt tool like a salary cap limits some clubs unfairly, while others with smaller budgets can still match their spending. Similarly, Dale Vince, the owner of Forest Green Rovers, was shocked by the ruling but downplayed its immediate impact. He acknowledged the challenges posed by the pandemic but emphasized that the transfer window had already closed, preventing clubs from making significant changes.

Future Engagement for Sustainability

The PFA recognizes the importance of financial stability and the economic impact of the pandemic. It emphasizes the need for collaboration between the leagues, clubs, and players to establish rules that promote long-term sustainability. Finding a balance between cost management and supporting clubs’ growth will be crucial in ensuring the future vitality of League One and League Two football.


Q: Will the salary cap be reintroduced in the future?
A: While the salary cap has been abolished for now, there is a possibility that it could be reinstated if the EFL decides to withdraw from the Professional Football Negotiating and Consultative Committee.

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Q: What were the major concerns about the salary cap?
A: Clubs, especially the larger ones in League One and League Two, expressed concerns about the one-size-fits-all approach of the salary cap. They argued that it limited their ability to spend and compete fairly, while benefiting clubs with smaller budgets.

Q: What impact did the pandemic have on the decision?
A: The economic impact of the pandemic exacerbated the financial challenges faced by clubs. While the salary cap aimed to address these challenges, its implementation was deemed unlawful and unenforceable.


The removal of the salary cap in League One and League Two marks a significant development in the ongoing discussions between clubs and players’ unions. It highlights the importance of collaboration and consultation when making crucial decisions that affect players’ terms and conditions of employment. The focus now shifts to finding alternative measures that strike a balance between cost management and supporting clubs during these challenging times.

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