NEWCASTLE Jets chief executive Lawrie McKinna believes it will be at least four years before the A-League is in a position financially to consider scrapping the salary cap.
Professional Footballers Australia released a report into the state of the A-League on Friday in which the boss of the players' union, John Didulica, insisted that the salary cap was 'broken' and called for a 'reboot' of the competition.
The salary cap, which has been in operation since year one and this season is $3.2million, was introduced to keep the competition level and prevent clubs from spending beyond their means.
However, Didiluca - and 85 per cent of the 61 players surveyed for the report - are adamant it is past its use by date and no longer serves the purpose for which it was intended.
Club owners promised reform after they won the battle to run the A-League independently in July. They have committed to increasing investment and marketing ahead of the new season, which kicks off next month.
"If the independent A-League works, the clubs are happy to share things once the clubs are sustainable," McKinna said. "I don't think we are ready for it, and then to see clubs spend willy nilly and end up out of the game."
Didiluca's call comes ahead of what are likely to be intensive negotiations over a long-term pay deal for A-League and W-League players, which is due to come into effect in the middle of next year.
He maintains the salary cap limits players' earnings and prevents A-League clubs from cashing in on big transfer fees due to the prevalence of short-term contracts.
"The club owners now have the control they have fought for," Didiluca said. "And with that they now have the responsibility for building a legacy for the A-League that realises the collective ambitions we have for the sport. They have a responsibility to rationally reimagine the economic model for the A-League to ensure the broken salary cap is scrapped and clubs are given the opportunity and incentive to build value in their players and their clubs."
However, McKinna said there simply wasn't the money in the game at present to facilitate an open-book on player wages.
"In my opinion, 85 per cent of players want to scrap the cap because they think it means more money," McKinna said.
"Until more income comes into the A-League clubs through things like a new TV deal there is no money. Clubs want to get money in to grow the business, grow the academies - all that stuff - and be sustainable long-term and not just rely on a rich owner putting in money every year."
The current TV deal, which covers the salary cap, has four seasons to run.
"The broadcast deal is the main source of revenue," McKinna said. "There will not be a major injection of money from anywhere else. They might pick up a couple of sponsorship deals here or there but the main earner is the new TV deal."
Under the current system, clubs can sign three marquee players, whose wages are outside the salary cap, and can tap into other salary concessions.
"Clubs are losing money as it is," McKinna said. "Melbourne Victory and maybe one of two others might break even at certain points. For the last two years we have spent as much as the Jets have ever spent and just lost more money."
McKinna said the Jets' 2017-18 campaign in which they finished second and were robbed in a grand final loss to Victory was proof that money is not everything.
"We spent $4 million that year but we would have been in bottom four clubs on spend," he said. "It shows it can be done. This season, for instance, we will have a smaller squad and for us to be successful we will rely on having the main players on the park."