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NIFL to review Irish League salary cap after investment at Larne and Glentoran

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Larne owner Kenny Bruce

Larne owner Kenny Bruce

Larne owner Kenny Bruce

The Northern Ireland Football League (NIFL) has commissioned a review of the Salary Cap Protocol (SCP) and will decide whether to keep, tweak or scrap the control on wages.

There has been much debate behind the scenes about whether to keep the IFA initiative in place, or lift the 'wage cap' to allow investors and/or benefactors to give clubs money unfettered.

Glentoran and Larne have both been massively boosted by cash injections from Ali Pour and Kenny Bruce respectively, with the Glens splashing out £40,000 last month to lure Ruaidhri Donnelly away from Cliftonville.

NIFL confirmed to the Sunday Life that transfer fees do not count as part of the SCP, with restrictions placed on wages instead. However, donations are deemed allowable income along with gate receipts, sponsorship and advertising, and can be used to pay wages within the structures of the SCP.

"Investors can put money into clubs," said an NIFL spokesperson.

"It would be seen as private investment, like advertising or sponsorship though perhaps on a bigger scale. The aim of the SCP was to stop debt and there is no doubt it has helped significantly."

The SCP was introduced by the Irish FA back in 2011 after several clubs experienced serious financial difficulties in the wake of the 2007 global credit crunch.

"The government needed money and sent the tax man after those clubs who owed money," said an IFA insider.

"Previously, clubs had been viewed as community hubs and weren't generally targeted.

"So seven or eight clubs were under pressure to pay outstanding monies and had to ask the IFA for advances on money due further down the line.

"The association wanted to ensure there was no repeat of this and implemented the Salary Cap Protocol and it was a successful initiative.

"These are changed times, however, with significant investment at Larne and Glentoran, and other clubs moving towards a full-time model.

"There are different views out there, with some clubs wanting to keep the SCP, some wanting to scrap it and many like the SCP but feel it needs reassessed, perhaps looking at the UEFA Financial Fair Play model.

"The protocol remains in place and the decision on whether to change it rests with NIFL and its member clubs."

A sub committee set up to look at the SCP will meet on Tuesday night to discuss the options and bring a recommendation to the NIFL Board for the final say.

There are serious penalties for any club found transgressing the SCP, including loss of participation licence and automatic relegation.

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