‘MLS-style caps wouldn’t work in Europe’ – Arsenal legend Wenger regrets Financial Fair Play fight

Arsene Wenger Arsenal
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The former Gunners boss believes rules may have to be reassessed, with leading sides around the world getting richer and stronger as rivals struggle

Former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has aired his regret at pushing so hard for the introduction of current Financial Fair Play regulations and is not convinced that a move towards MLS-style salary caps would work in Europe.

Restrictions on how much any given side can spend over the course of any given three-year window were implemented in a bid to stop teams from living beyond their means.

Loopholes have been found, though, with action – such as the two-year European ban Manchester City are currently contesting – often doing little to counter the problems which still exist.

Wenger concedes that the rich are getting richer and rivals who are forced to abide by the rules being left further and further behind – with the financial implications of the Covid-19 pandemic doing nobody any favours.

“I did fight a lot for Financial Fair Play,” Wenger, who was famed for his frugal approach to recruitment across 22 years at Arsenal, told The Athletic on the current state of football.

“What I regret is that when I did fight, teams were allowed to do what they wanted and these teams are in charge now in strong positions in the league.

“They are, of course, now supportive of financial fair play because it suits them. But they do not want anybody new to come in and be a threat. 

“Maybe we should open the door by being very cautious ethically. To create more flexibility in results, maybe we have to open the door or make sure everyone has the same resources.

“It is too predictable now. For example, in France, before the championship starts, everybody asks, ‘Who will be second?’”

Wenger believes solutions can be found which will help to level the playing field, but the Frenchman is not convinced that an American model can be followed – with salary caps used across major sports in the United States such as MLS, NBA and NFL.

 “Yes, I’m convinced UEFA is conscious of that,” Wenger added on what can be done.

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“Although I am not completely convinced a salary cap works.

“People speak of salary caps in America but you have, in the same team, someone who makes $5 million and another who makes $50,000. That also doesn’t work.”

Wenger is FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development, with the 70-year-old – who appears to have brought a distinguished coaching career to a close – in a position where he can impact the direction in which football heads from this point.