Wright tips his salary cap

CFL commissioner Tom Wright has the backing of theboard of governors for a new salary cap system,...

CFL commissioner Tom Wright has the backing of theboard of governors for a new salary cap system, details of which will be unveiled today. (Ottawa Sun File/Sean Kilpatrick)

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:53 AM ET

The Canadian Football League will go forward with a revolutionary salary management system, capping off an ambitious proposal put forward by commissioner Tom Wright.

In fact, Wright's ability to bring the board together on the system will almost surely guarantee him an extension of his current deal, which expires after this season, or become his legacy if he departs to seek another challenge.

After several hours of discussion yesterday in Scottsdale, Ariz., the board of governors voted in favour of the plan, the full details of which Wright will announce today in a teleconference call. Sources say the salary cap, which was never fully enforced, will be raised this year to $3.8 million from $2.6 million and will be monitored and enforced with penalties for violators.

In addition, sources say the active player roster will expand to 42 from 40 with the addition of one import and non-import.

"This is an extraordinary day for this league," Wright said in a prepared release. "We have collectively agreed on a system that will provide our fans with the assurance that each and every team can compete on a level playing field year-in and year-out.

"The new salary management system provides all member clubs with greater financial stability through the mechanism of cost certainty."

Wright devised the plan with input from some of the teams and adopting templates used by other professional leagues.

Some people believed if Wright couldn't convince the board to implement the system, he would become a lameduck commissioner in the final year of his contract. Last year he asked for a multi-year extension on his contract, but was given only one more year without a raise, a clear vote of non-confidence from some board members who didn't like his management style.

The previous cap, which some operators considered only a guideline, had become a fantasy number because the league never disclosed the year-end figures of each teams' player costs. Part of the excess spending had to do with spiralling injuries, but principally it pertained to free spending without controls. A source said the difference last year was between $3.4 million and $4.3 million. The new figure basically splits the difference.

This new system is expected to provide some transparency by revealing players' salaries. Wright felt it was important from an integrity point of view to end all the guessing games about player contracts, some of which included side deals that were not reported to the league and the players association.

The new deal will have to be approved by the players association, which has been working with the league on a new collective bargaining agreement because the current one expires going into training camp this year. A source said the CBA only requires some language changes to take into account the new salary management system.


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