maximum wage

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The imposition, by the employing club, of a limit on the earnings of a professional player. In professional football in England, the maximum wage had fixed the upper limit of a player's wage, for the winter playing season, and for the summer ‘close’ season. In 1961, the Professional Footballers' Association challenged the English Football League on this issue, as a matter of employment rights. National government (the Ministry of Labour) was involved in the conciliation process, and the players' threats of strikes were withdrawn when the maximum wage restriction was abolished. Soon, Johnny Haynes (1934–2005) of Fulham became England's first ‘£100-a-week’ professional footballer. Some people in the game—such as the chairmen of smaller clubs in the provinces—predicted that the abolition of the maximum wage, combined with the reform of the retain and transfer system, would play into the hands of the rich, metropolitan clubs. Burnley had won the English Football League championship in the 1959–60 season; Ipswich Town won the title in the 1961–2 season. Blackburn Rovers became champions of the newly formatted Premiership in 1993, after local businessman Jack Walker (1929–2000) invested heavily in the club. But, generally, the critics have been proven right; constraining and restraining as such controls might have been for the geographical and financial careers of players, their abolition has strengthened the resource base of metropolitan elites. See also salary cap.

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