Monday, April 14, 2008

The cap fits?

I didn't watch any matches over the weekend, you can find your own results.

Anyway, what I was going to talk about was this: the Super League Table.

Note how the bulk of teams just over half of games are victories, and even the run away leaders are only a couple of games ahead of their next rivals (though look at the astounding points difference, Leeds have scored 326 while only conceding 116 - thats about giving away only 10 points a game).

Part of the closeness of the Super League is the Salary Cap (PDF):
There are 2 principal purposes of The Super League Salary Cap. The first is to restrict clubs’ main item of expenditure, players’ costs, to try and ensure, as far as possible, the long-term financial survival of rugby league clubs.

The second purpose is to improve the competitiveness of the League by restricting to a finite level of how much one club can spend on its playing staff.
Now, obviously, the former is anti-competetive since it has the stated aim of controlling players salaries, but note, the £1.6 million cap does not restrict the actual individual salary, but only the total. In doing so, it means that clubs faxce a choice between building a broad side, or paying for a very expensive star.

The effect is to impose a rough equality on the entrants to the game, much in the same way as if a formula 1 team were to be given the same mopdel car as their rivals - you can tweak it, and the game becomes who can tweak the car the best.

Obviously, Rugby is and remains a business, but at least this element of the sport keeps the focus on the sport, and by dint of mitigating against massive investments in a few clubs is tendentially anti-capitalist (although decidedly not pro-socialist) in as much as it moves rewards in the game away from the capacity to invest capital. the soccer premiership, by way of contradistinction, is all about which club can most effectively deploy the most capital into the market, and allocates rewards accordingly.

Of course, the owners of the clubs, like all business folk who enjoy protectionist measures, might one day find such protections a hinderence to their profitability, but for now, we can enjoy a league in which the action is determined by events on the field, and in which skill with a bloody ball is what matters most.

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