Wigan's Dave Whelan expects break-even rule introduction

By Simon AustinBBC Sport
Wigan owner Dave Whelan says a break even rule will soon be introduced in the Premier League

Wigan owner Dave Whelan believes Premier League clubs will vote for a new break-even rule on Thursday.

Under plans which could be introduced next season, clubs would not be allowed to spend more cash than they generate.

Whelan told BBC Sport: "I think the clubs will say break-even is something they want. We could definitely see it."

The rule would mark a major change for the league, with champions Manchester City, for example, having made a £197m loss in their latest set of results.external-link

Premier League clubs made cumulative losses of £361m in 2010-11, the most recent season for which there are complete financial results.

Representatives of the 20 top-flight teams will discuss the issue of financial regulation at one of their regular "shareholder meetings" in London on Thursday.

With 14 clubs needed to vote in favour of the proposals for them to pass, Whelan says Fulham are the only club opposed to any kind of new rules being brought in.

"This break-even rule will stop clubs getting into the red," he said. "There's nothing worse than seeing a club like Portsmouth getting into financial trouble - or Rangers, who are such a big and powerful club.

"I don't think Fulham want anything at all to do with it but generally it is accepted it's a very good rule. If it's passed on Thursday I think it's going to be a very good thing for football."

There could still be some flexibility permitted under any potential change, with wealthy owners allowed to put additional money in.

Uefa has already introduced its own financial fair play rulesexternal-link. The first monitoring period is for two seasons and clubs had to submit accounts for 2011/12 and will also do so for 2012/13. For that two-season period, they are only permitted to each make a 45m Euro aggregate loss.

Clubs that fail to comply could be excluded from playing in the Champions League or Europa League.

Whelan believes the penalties should be severe if a break-even rule is introduced in the Premier League.

"We've got to say 'if you agree with this, you've got to abide by the rules'," he said. "If you don't break even, you get relegated or get a 10-, 15-, 20-point deduction."

A new £3bn television deal comes into force in the Premier League next season, up 70% on the existing arrangement. The chairmen are eager to ensure the extra money is not swallowed up by increased player wages.

Premier League clubs spent almost £1.6bn on wages in 2010-11, constituting 70% of their income.external-link Only once in the 20 seasons of the Premier League - 2004-05 - have wages fallen year-on-year.

Manchester City spent 114% of their income on wages in 2010-11, Aston Villa 103%, and Chelsea 84%.

Another proposal is the introduction of a wage cap, pegging a club's salary bill to a maximum percentage increase year-on-year. Sunderland have pushed hard for this, but Whelan is not in favour.

"We control ourselves and don't pay what we can't afford," he said.

"I don't think they will go along with a wage cap, I can't see them getting a majority to put in too many controls.

"I say to players, get what you can while you can but be sensible and give respect to the club you play for."

Wigan reported a profit in earnings before interest, tax and other associated costs in their latest set of financial figures and Whelan expects them to be able to easily comply with a break-even rule.

"This doesn't come as any shock or surprise to a club like West Brom or Wigan, which are very carefully, well-run clubs," he said.