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Sep 14, 2012

West Ham owner eyes wage freeze

West Ham co-owner David Gold says he hopes to freeze wages to in order to halt the Premier League's slide into financial "Armageddon", ESPN can reveal.

Gold has named the proposal the "Master Plan", with the aim to stop any increase in a club's annual wage bill - apart from inflation - in a move which could change the landscape of the Premier League.

He also advocates that, if the scheme works and all clubs are running into profits staying within a new Financial Fair Play structure, all clubs should freeze ticket prices.

"I would personally favour a pay freeze based on the current wage bill, plus inflation on top each year," Gold told ESPN. "The wage bill for the January transfer window should not be taken into account to stop clubs inflating their wage bills."

Last Thursday, Gold spoke at a Premier League meeting about finances and FFP, supporting the series of articles by ESPN revealing the moves to effectively cap player's salaries. Gold, though, conceded that club owners are putting forward alternative mechanisms to freeze wages, and he will abide by the majority vote.

Gold told ESPN: "The bottom line is that the clubs have got to stop losing money and building up debt. The Premier League is the biggest, best and finest league in the world yet collectively it lost £340 million last year.

"Fifteen years ago we were paying 40% of income on wages, now its 70%. What happens when its 101% ... we will all go bust. If it carries on the way it is, the my fear is that the indications are that it has gone from 40 to 50 to 60 to 70 then next year it could be 80, the year after 90 and we are heading for Armageddon, we are moving ever closer to the precipice.

"The one thing about mankind is that traditionally when we get near the precipice, at the last minute we stop and have a 'will'. I sense that 'will' exists now for change in the Premier League.

"If you had spoken to me five years ago I would have said you would be insane to think of change such as this even two years ago I would have said you were mad, but slowly but surely the clubs realise they have to have governance. They cannot be left to their own devises.

"Phase One is that all the clubs have to break even at least. Phase Two is to make a little money. Phase Three to make a lot of money and then freeze ticket prices.

"It just cannot go on the way it is, thats for sure, and everyone is coming to that conclusion.

"I've been in football for 20 years, the Premier League for 12 years on an off, and with two different clubs, so I have seen where there is a 'will', there is a way, and this summer I have seen a 'will'. We can all see, if one dies, we eventually all die. So, doing nothing is not an option.

"I am not in opposition to wealthy clubs like Manchester City and Chelsea, I welcome them, and believe they should enjoy the fruits of their labour. If they want to overspend, fine by me, but they would need to be fined and that money should be distributed to the compliant clubs in the form of compensation.

"What I do mind is coming up with reasons why it cannot be done. I told the clubs 'don't give me reasons why we cannot do it. Instead lets' find a way to make it happen. We put a man on the moon so we are capable of finding solutions to this problem.

"I have my own views about freezing wages, others have different ideas, and I am happy to go along with the majority view. But the bottom line is all clubs must at least break even and to achieve that we have to control wages."

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