Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Tyrone Howe: Salary cap fits in these tough economic times

The decision to introduce a salary cap announced by the four Welsh regions displays wise prudence and governance of their game.

It also reveals the financial challenges faced by all professional rugby set-ups.

While the Heineken Cup is a marvellous spectacle and contributes to the ever-growing number of Sky Sports subscribers, for the vast majority of professional organisations, revenue from attendances and sponsorship do not match or exceed expenditure.

The economic climate has been biting for a number of years but for many clubs, the realisation is only now beginning to sink in.

The Ospreys are a case in point — now focusing less on a roll-call of superstars and relying more on local talent.

Yes, it might run the risk of losing leading players to the inflated world of French rugby, but rarely would an individual harbouring real international ambitions take such a step.

In the long term this is a situation which should benefit the local and national game.

Then if an overseas player, a so-called ‘signature player’, is added to the squad they really have to bring value rather than come in for a short term supplement to their pension fund.

While Leinster and Munster might be able to command full houses, attendances in Wales are at a worrying level — and all this when the national team is on a real high after the World Cup.

Sustainability, of course, is the key aim — a situation in which you do not have to rely on individual or parental handouts or any other form of subsidy.

Being able to pay your own way is an odd notion in the world of professional sport — just look at football’s spiralling debts.

Rugby is not blessed with oligarch support and, even if it were, what is the fallback option should a wealthy sugardaddy take his money elsewhere?

Working in tandem with your Union, as in Ireland, has to be the way forward.

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