A-League: Phoenix boss fears rise of the rich

Wellington Phoenix General Manager David Dome is concerned the FFA’s salary cap reforms could grow the A-League’s divide between rich and poor.

The introduction of a long-term player payment is expected to be included in salary cap reforms to be confirmed by the FFA in the coming weeks.

The reforms come as the FFA and Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) negotiate a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), with the current deal due to expire in June.

It follows in the wake of the Perth Glory salary cap scandal, and while Dome acknowledged the relaxation was minor, he was concerned by continued changes to the cap.

The salary cap went up from $2.478 million to $2.55 million when the last CBA was negotiated.

“Any relaxation of the salary cap this season is going to be on the margin. It’s not going to be a great amount of money,” Dome told FourFourTwo.

“Our only concern is that the salary cap is going up without necessarily any additional money coming into the game.”

The FFA is eyeing off a new broadcast rights deal, which could pump more money into football, which Dome acknowledged.

However, there are no guarantees about that money, given the current deal with Fox Sports and SBS has two more years to run.

Dome added: “In the short term, any increase in the salary cap is a challenge.

“It’s another change and then another change and another little change, these all add up over time.

“What we fear happening is the bigger clubs becoming stronger, leaving the rest behind.

“We’re one of the clubs which doesn’t spend big, we don’t sign a marquee.

“It’s important that the A-League has a level-playing field to maintain interest and the integrity of the league.”

Meanwhile, Dome said he was happy with the improvements Wellington made off field this season, with memberships up to 4,000 and crowds up eight per cent to 8,500.

Dome was particularly pleased given issues with scheduling around the Cricket World Cup, which included a fixture clash with the final where New Zealand played Australia.

The Phoenix were forced to move three home matches to Lower Hutt due to the Cricket World Cup.

Dome acknowledged on-field results helped, but added the club would argue for earlier kick-off times next season to suit their family market.

Wellington have already confirmed the re-signing of Roly Bonevacia for two seasons, but the futures of Joel Griffiths and Nathan Burns are unclear. 

Kenny Cunningham, Tyler Boyd, Josh Brindell-South and Jason Hicks have already left, while Michael Boxall joined Jeremy Brockie at South African club SuperSport United this week.

“We’re after a striker and a centre-back and then depending on what happens with Burnsy, we’re pretty settled,” Dome said.