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The man with his own salary cap

This is the story of the self-imposed salary cap of Lazio's owner Claudio Lotito:

Amid fan unrest, the fortunes of the 2000 Italian champions are sinking and taking President Claudio Lotito's brave bid to defy the economics of football down with them.

.. Lazio had already sold most of their prize players when Lotito took on the debt-laden club in July 2004.

He promised a new approach after former owner Sergio Cragnotti won a league title and a European Cup Winners' Cup at the cost of driving Lazio to the verge of bankruptcy.

"It is necessary to change policy in football," Lotito told RAI radio. "The theory that who spends most wins is no longer valid. The winner is the one who carries out a proper project, based on values."

Lotito stopped Lazio going to the wall and dropping down to the minor leagues by striking a deal with Italian authorities to repay a 140-million-euro ($203-million) tax bill over 23 years.

He set a salary cap of 500,000 euros and cold-shouldered players whose wages he deemed too high, such as defender Paolo Negro and goalkeeper Matteo Sereni, until they left.

I'm not sure what Lotito meant by "valid." If he could get the rest of Serie A's owners to commit to a salary cap, that would indeed save some teams from bleeding money. But this is Italy, where top soccer clubs have long relied on the largesse of industrial magnates, and the prospect of agreement on something of this magnitude seems fanciful.

While it is true that splashing money on players doesn't win championships, a unilateral decision to not spend leaves you with no shot whatsoever. Lazio are in their second relegation dogfight since Lotito took over, and attendance has collapsed. Titles don't come cheap, especially in European football.