Hatters CEO wants a salary cap introduced to control the Championship 'mad house'

Hatters CEO Gary Sweet with chairman David Wilkinson
Hatters CEO Gary Sweet with chairman David Wilkinson

Luton Town chief executive Gary Sweet has called for a salary cap in what he has labelled as the Championship 'mad house.'

The Town CEO was speaking to BBC Look East after a 5 Live investigation discovered that clubs in the second tier of English football ran up a record-high total of £307m in pre-tax losses in 2017-18.

It also found that despite the league bringing in its highest-ever revenue of £749m, overall spending on player and staff wages exceeded clubs' revenue by 11%, with the gap expected to widen to an all-time high for 2018-19 as over half of the clubs are spending more on wages than they make in income.

Meanwhile, with many teams recording significant losses over one or two seasons in an attempt to gain promotion to the Premier League, Sweet said: "We've got a situation where the rules say you're allowed to lose £39m over three years.

"So your starting point is, if you lose only £13m in one year, you've done well. You get a pat on the back. That's not our belief.

"That's not where we've come from.

"I'm grounded in a business school that says you've got to make a profit, or at least break even.

"We are not in a position where we can lose £13m per year.

"We haven't come in to it blindly. We've known all about the financial situation. But we were completely determined to do it our way and really not join in with the mad house.

"That's really the best way I can describe it.

"We don't have those people in the boardroom who can just throw dozens of millions or maybe hundreds of millions in to the pot over a few years to try and get to that next level.

"What would I do? I would certainly bring in a salary cap. We run our own salary cap, it's self-policed.

"We're still operating on the League Two and League One financial fair play rule, salary cost management, (whereby) we couldn't spend any more than 60% of our turnover on player salaries.

"I would bring in a cap on agents' fees. You perhaps could only get promoted, for example, if you (break even) and you're clean."

The Hatters have had a tough start to life back in the Championship after over a decade underway, with new manager Graeme Jones leading them to fourth bottom after 22 games, two points clear of the drop zone.

Sweet believes they are capable of staying up despite the clear disadvantage in financial power, adding: "There are more currencies in football than money.

"The first one being points on the board, but the second one being a lot of ethical and moral values that we hold.

"Those are some of the things that do tend to be compromised when you get individuals or companies or even countries come in to buy football clubs with the pure intent of ambition or ego.

"We feel that we want to climb as far as we possibly can without really changing the core culture of the football club that we've created.

"I think, when we speak to supporters, that's what they want too."