A-League clubs will be able to sign two foreign marquee players in one of a number of changes to the salary cap announced by Football Federation Australia (FFA) on Tuesday.
The changes are aimed at giving clubs more flexibility in assembling and retaining squads, rewarding youth development and long term player loyalty, according to a statement from the governing body.
The changes include:
:: A Loyalty Player allowance has been included to give clubs a sliding scale of salary cap relief for players who have played between 5-10 years at the club. The total amount that can be spent on Loyalty Players is $200,000 outside the salary cap.
:: Clubs can pay a mature age rookie outside the salary cap to encourage talented players in the National Premier Leagues. This player must be over the age of 21, not played in a fully professional competition for the last 18 months and last played football in Australia. This player must be paid at least the Minimum Salary.
:: The existing Home Grown Player allowance outside the salary cap has lifted from $150,000 to $200,000. Each club can include three players who started their careers with the club, either through the youth system of the A-League squad.
:: The two Marquee Players (which sit outside the Salary Cap) can now be two foreigners, two Australians or one Australian and one foreigner. This has changed from Two Marquee Players whereby at least one must be Australian.
:: Salary Cap Banking will allow clubs to carry over money not spent inside the Salary Cap in the previous two seasons to the next season, up to 105 per cent of the Salary Cap in the relevant contract year.
:: The Salary Cap floor (minimum amount that needs to be spent) lifts from 85 per cent to 90 per cent.
:: The length of the maximum stint for a Guest Player has increased from 10 to 14 weeks.
:: The minimum annual salary for players aged over 21 years has risen from $51,000 to $55,000.
"The Player Contract Regulations changes offer significantly increased salary opportunities for players as well as providing flexibility and rewards for clubs who plan their roster around Marquee Players, youth development and long term loyalty to its players," A-League chief Damien de Bohun said.
"These changes will allow clubs to bring talented players through their expanding youth systems, retain cult heroes like Melbourne Victory's Archie Thompson and continue to search for Marquee and Guest Players that can add impact to the continued growth of the Hyundai A-League.
"We believe these changes allow flexibility for the Hyundai A-League clubs with different objectives and structure the opportunity to build their rosters to suit their individual needs, while adding benefits at both ends of a player's career.
"On top of these changes, FFA continues to work with the PFA to finalise a Collective Bargaining Agreement that will ensure player salary growth increases in line with the growth of the sport."