By Jung Min-ho
The K-League plans to disclose players’ annual salaries may not come into effect next season as it has run into opposition from some clubs.
“The K-League insists that the overall personnel expenses will be reduced if the players’ annual salaries are revealed. But we believe the result is most likely to be the opposite,” said Choi Won-chang, public relations director of the Suwon Samsung Bluewings. “As the new system will allow players to compare their salaries with one another, the clubs probably will have to pay more to keep hold of the league’s top talent.”
At a board of directors’ meeting on Sept. 11, the K-League announced its decision to disclose players’ salaries for transparent fiscal operations and argued the fans have the right to know. However, the plan has met opposition from some sides including the Bluewings and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors who question its financial benefits. With the laws protecting the clubs’ privacy and their right to make their own decisions on the matter, the proposal will not move forward without unanimous consent from the teams.
“Aside from a few countries such as the U.S. and Australia, most clubs in Europe and Asia do not reveal players’ salaries with concerns it might lead their league to become stagnant because of a talent drain,” Choi said. “It is like showing your cards at the table, while others keep them hidden, which will be very disadvantageous when domestic teams make deals with their counterparts overseas.”
As a result, domestic clubs will be more likely lose their top players abroad, as the Korean clubs would not be able to access the salary information in other leagues when negotiating transfers, Choi said.
On the other hand, the K-League said the change is necessary for the domestic league’s long-term success and financial stability, noting the clubs would be able to map out their financial plans more conveniently than now following the disclosure of the players’ salaries.
“It will encourage the players to be more competitive in the market. It will also make it clearer for teams to single out who is responsible for important decisions regarding the recruitment of players,” K-League Public Relations General Manager Park Yong-chul said.
Teams in the European leagues do not reveal players’ salaries but they have the UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations that prevent the clubs spending more than they make, designed to protect them from falling into financial difficulties. Teams opposing the K-League idea want to adopt the Fair Play system instead.
“We believe that all the clubs agree on the need for improvements. With that in mind, we are going to keep trying to make the plan work through more research and discussion,” Park said.