Common sense coming back, Hearn believes

LEYTON Orient chairman Barry Hearn believes a wage cap for Premier League players is inevitable and that football club owners should take greater responsibility to avoid being saddled with huge debts.

Financial Fair Play rules come into effect in the top flight next year with club’s able to spend a maximum of £52m on wages, though no ceiling on what an individual player can earn has been implemented.

But Hearn, whose League One club’s wage bill must not exceed 65% of its turnover under Salary Cost Management Protocol rules, believes the tide is slowly beginning to turn higher up the football pyramid.

“I think there is going to be more common sense coming back into football,” he told City A.M. “We’ve seen 65% of players’ wages against revenue come in this year, next year it is 60% and the financial fair play rules come into the Premier League.

“I think players and agents are beginning to understand it is not an unlimited fest of money.

“The dream would be to turn football into a proper trading profitable enterprise and you do that by reducing your costs as much as you can, specifically players wages, and you increase your revenue as much as you can.

“We wouldn’t get such bad publicity if every football club was making a profit.”

Orient’s east London neighbours West Ham are thought to have a net debt of £70m, while relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers are said to have debts totalling £89m.

And Hearn believes that trend cannot continue.

“We have a responsibility if we sit at the top to run businesses properly,” he added. “I’m old fashioned, I don’t allow any of my businesses to borrow money, I don’t like it, I like to pay my own way.

“Look at Portsmouth, they’re going down into League Two from being a Premier League club, it’s just unbelievable.

“That’s what mis-management does, but what we should be looking for is a higher standard of management and financial expertise to make sure that we don’t go down that slippery path.”