Brian Carney: Should Super League salary cap be cut to £1m?

Brian Carney is a Sky Sports pundit
Brian Carney is a Sky Sports pundit

Brian Carney has floated the idea about slashing the Super League salary cap limit to £1m.


Currently, clubs can spend up to £2.1m on their senior squad with extra allowances, including two marquee players each.

Ex-Warriors winger Carney, anchor of Sky Sports' coverage of Super League, admits he is not a fan of restricting how much players earn.

But with the current broadcast deal running out in two years, he suggested a drastic reduction in the wage ceiling would leave the sport with some money in reserve - and questioned what impact it would have on clubs' squads.

Speaking to freelance journalist John Davidson on the By The Balls podcast, he said: "I've said it many times, I don't believe the salary cap does what it purports to do.

Where you to get rid of it, how much worse off would you be? Some club owners say it'd be the demise of their club I'm not sure that's true.

Listen to the full Brian Carney interview here

"Something seems inherently wrong about capping the wages of a player, or artificially suppressing it.

"Here's the thing - and I've tossed this around in my head - I'm wondering do we need to keep the salary cap and reduce it?

"It's currently about £2m, give or take. If you were you to drop it to a million, what would be the effect?

"Filter out the hysteria and what would happen?"

While some of Super League's top players would attract interest from the NRL, Carney says the competition has many average players on good contracts who would remain.

"If we go from the collective to the individual, take a player on 80 grand - and there are a lot in Super League, who I would consider average at best, earning that much money," said Carney, who played at Wigan from 2001 to the end of '05.

"If you drop that to £40,000, he either accepts it, or goes to find a job elsewhere.

"Well, go online on the job sections and see what you've got to do for 40 grand. My point is we're playing players 80 grand or 160 grand, and if we're saying we're a sport which needs to preserve what money we have - then we may have to do something radical, like drop it down.

"Why am I advocating a drop in cap? Because the game may need something in its bank account in two years.

"If you insist on having a salary cap, you may need to think it down again.

"Is our game going to collapse? How many will stop playing, how many will go to union, to the NRL? They are important questions. But I would guess it would not be as drastic as some people think."

Carney, who also played for Great Britain and Ireland as well as Newcastle Knights and Warrington, says six-figure contracts used to be reserved for the elite players.

"That's not the case now, we're paying 140 grand to players who wouldn't get near an international side, that wouldn't be in the top 20 - maybe the top 50 - in Super League," he said.

"I remember hearing about an Australian prop, no longer playing, at a side in the lowest third of Super League and looking at £100,000. If I told you his name you'd be staggered. And he got that!

"If you're going to cap it, cap it and get some benefits of it. I understand the contradiction in what I'm saying. But if you've nothing in the bank account after two years, can you afford (a salary cap of) £2m?"