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What is the 'Ronaldo rule'? Man Utd salary cap transfer policy explained

6:23 PM GMT+4 08/01/2023
Erik ten Hag Cristiano Ronaldo Manchester United 2022-23
Reports have suggested a change of transfer policy when it comes to contracts, so what's it all about?

In early 2023, it was reported that Manchester United had introduced a new transfer policy concerning player contracts dubbed 'the Ronaldo rule'. Such a decision would mark a significant deviation from previous practice at the Premier League club.

While players will still earn lucrative contracts at Old Trafford comparable to top clubs across the world, the wage structure within the club is set to be tightened up.

So what exactly is the 'Ronaldo rule'? GOAL takes a look at the term, its origin and meaning, as well as why United are said to be implementing it.

What is the 'Ronaldo rule'?

The 'Ronaldo rule' is a term used to describe a transfer policy that was reportedly enacted by Manchester United in early 2023.

According to the Daily Mail, the rule was brought in by club bosses "to ensure nobody inside the Old Trafford dressing room is paid significantly more than their team-mates."

Under the so-called Ronaldo rule, Manchester United players' salaries will be capped at £200,000 ($240k) a week - or around £10.4 million ($12.5m) a year. Players who are still on deals far in excess of that figure will be offered fresh terms to bring them down to the cap level.

Manchester United have, in the past, regularly offered big-money contracts to marquee players, with Cristiano Ronaldo being the most recent example, having reportedly pulled £385,000 ($466k) a week in his second spell at the club.

Why are Man Utd implementing the 'Ronaldo rule'?

In general, the implementation of a salary cap is driven chiefly by financial considerations as it helps to limit overspending on playing talent. It also gives a degree of certainty in negotiations, for both the club and players.

By enacting something like the 'Ronaldo rule', Man Utd will be seeking to reduce their wage bill first and foremost, but there are potential benefits for coaches too in terms of dressing room psychology, with a sense of equitability being fostered among the team's high earners.

Why is it called the 'Ronaldo rule'?

The name 'Ronaldo rule' is unofficial and has chiefly been used in media reports to describe the new approach Manchester United are taking with regard to establishing a ceiling on player earnings at the club.

This type of policy approach has most likely been dubbed 'the Ronaldo rule' because the legendary Portugal international had been earning a significant amount in comparison to many of his peers at Old Trafford and it was reported to be implemented after his departure from the club.

The terminology likely takes inspiration from the 'Beckham rule' in Major League Soccer, which is an unofficial synonym for the American league's Designated Player Rule, whereby teams are permitted to sign up to three players who do not come under the league's salary cap regulations.