CITY believe that lobbying the EFL over the planned salary cap has paid off for clubs in the bottom two tiers.

But there are new fears that a loophole has been forced wide open by changes now being put forward.

The vote on whether to bring in a salary cap has been delayed another week - until August 6 - when it is expected to come into force.

City would be limited to a £1.5 million ceiling in League Two with third-tier clubs operating on a budget of £1 million more.

The Bantams have been firmly against the proposal along with the likes of Sunderland, Peterborough and Portsmouth in League One.

The EFL appear to have softened their stance by stretching the deadline on existing contracts – but that could create new problems.

To make it easier for clubs to adjust to the salary cap, players already on the books would count at a maximum of £1,300 per week.

The likes of Anthony O’Connor and Paudie O’Connor are understood to be on more than that at City but while they will continue to be paid in full, they would be listed at the agreed League Two average for cap purposes.

The original proposal listed a cut-off point of June 30 for contracted cap players – the traditional end of year for player contracts.

But the deadline was extended twice within a couple of days this week, first to July 29 and has now been put back to August 6.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Billy Clarke's return to City was done within the expected constraints of the salary capBilly Clarke's return to City was done within the expected constraints of the salary cap

That means that any business already done, with contracts signed to start before then, will be registered at that lower figure in the cap.

It is a huge bonus for Bolton, who are understood to have shelled out big wages on Eoin Doyle and Antoni Sarcevic – both well in excess of the amount they will take up in the permitted budget.

Doyle, for example, has been signed on a three-year deal – which would qualify at the £68,000 annual rate in the cap for the length of the contract.

The pressure from some clubs looks to have forced the change but will leave many inevitably questioning the point of introducing the financial limits in the first place.

“They’ve actually made the salary cap essentially irrelevant for at least next season if not beyond, however, as we are active in the market this move does enhance our potential options somewhat,” said City director of communications and commercial Ryan Sparks.

“But it has created a loophole which clearly undermines the whole purpose of the salary cap, in my opinion.

“It appears the EFL are making up the process as they go along and that’s forcing clubs to react to an ever-changing picture. But this may well have come as a result of the pressure we and others have added.

“We’ve spoken to other clubs in League Two at length and there is outrage at this late change to the proposal, which compromises planning.

“There are clubs that have already begun recruiting in this division that weren’t aware this was going to happen, ourselves included.

“Likewise, there are financially-struggling clubs who have been unable to start recruiting, given the uncertainty.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Ryan Sparks believes the changes "undermine the whole purpose" of the salary capRyan Sparks believes the changes "undermine the whole purpose" of the salary cap

“Those clubs have will have taken some solace from believing players signed after June 30 - by their rivals - would count fully against the proposed salary cap, meaning they would be competing on a relatively level-playing field.

“If you play your cards right, though, the salary cap would not affect you for several years if you signed long-term contracts on certain players.”

It is understood that clubs who break the cap next season will suffer points deductions and heavy financial penalties.

That part of the plan works - but moving the goalposts regarding current contracts smacks of the EFL trying to “sweeten” the deal with the dissenters to rubber-stamp the upcoming vote.

Sparks added: “My view would be to park it, review the idea and probably look at it towards the start of next year before bringing it in for next season.

“Clubs have got enough to concern themselves with right now with the virus and the state of affairs in the country, let alone just football.

“To be perfectly clear on the matter, we absolutely do not support this salary cap proposal and we have been consistent in terms of our approach throughout.”

Many are currently in no position to recruit because of the huge hit they have suffered from COVID-19 – so they will be locked into the £1.5 million cap. Other divisional rivals, meanwhile, can spend away.

Sparks said: “Transparency is crucial to us and we have been as honest as we could have regarding the developing situation, given the confidentiality of the proposal as it has continued to turn left, right - and, now, almost back again.

In my opinion, the salary cap will be in ‘full force’ next season. But more in name than substance, which ticks a box for the governing body.

“We believe we have played a part in making other clubs and the EFL fully aware of the potential long-term, damaging effects of a salary cap’s introduction.

“Yet what should have been quite straightforward has now become unclear and allows clubs to potentially take advantage of the situation.

“We’ve championed sporting integrity throughout the process, including in regards to the curtailment of last season.

“But it appears integrity is being traded here, in a desperate lunge to force what now looks to be an artificial financial control mechanism.

“The threat is that clubs may be able to agree long-term deals and get around the system until the 2021/22, 2022/23 or 2023/24 seasons.

"The irony in this move is that it could create more 'boom and bust' than before.

"Some clubs, certainly the bigger ones with more spending power, will see this as a last opportunity to get out of the division they are in.

"You could create a 'boom and bust' situation when you're actually trying to create financial sustainability.

“In my opinion, the salary cap will be in ‘full force’ next season. But more in name than substance, which ticks a box for the governing body.

“From a PR perspective, it allows the EFL to speak with pride about financial control, sustainability models and all the other relevant buzz words.

“But it’s not quite like that in reality, at least in the short term."

More details are likely to be discussed when the club stage an online fans forum from 7.30pm on Monday. It will be aired live via City’s YouTube channel.