IT is clear Oxford United did not want the salary cap to come in – but they were in the relatively fortunate position of being able to make it work whatever the outcome to last week’s vote.

Karl Robinson’s arguments about beefing up the previous set of financial rules, the Salary Cost Management Protocol, were valid, as are his predictions of the £2.5million maximum creating a chasm between League One and the Championship.

They also feel hastily applied. While the coronavirus pandemic has brought chaos, which will resonate for some time yet, such a seismic change would normally be considered for far longer.

Although players’ union the PFA are protesting, clubs have effectively had their say and now have to make the best of the situation. As always in times of flux, those who are smart and agile can take advantage – and that has to be United’s goal over the next few weeks.

Also read: Planning ahead will help Oxford United deal with new rules

With a budget last season believed to be at just over £3million, they were mid-table when it came to spending.

In theory, that means they will have to make cuts to comply, but in practice Robinson still has money to spend.

It is because anyone on contracts signed before the vote will only count as the average salary for the division.

Next season that will mean the £2.5m total being divided by the total number of players allowed in a squad (22), which equates to just over £113,000.

So if, for example, Matty Taylor’s deal at Oxford United was worth £4,000 per week, they would be paying him £208,000 a year. But because his contract was agreed before the vote, he will only count as being paid at the average – ‘saving’ United £95,000 for the purposes of the salary cap.

With several members of the squad thought to be on contracts above the divisional average, that £3m total quickly falls below the £2.5m threshold, while Jamie Mackie’s retirement also frees up some useful room in the budget.

It is true other clubs in League One with bigger budgets last season will be able to take advantage of the same loophole.

But they will face a headache when it comes to signing players now the rules have come in, because their contract offers will be far lower than the rest of the squad.

That could see them hang on to players they wanted to move on, because the available replacements are not as good.

With United's spending in a similar ballpark to the cap, it is not something which should trouble them unduly.

The other big issue is that the £2.5m can only be spread out between 22 senior players – those aged over 21 on January 1.

United have 19 players who count and although it is expected Rob Dickie will depart before the transfer window closes in October, it is a figure the club will have to keep in mind.

That may go in some way to explain the relatively quiet transfer windows so far at some of the promotion contenders.

It all makes players aged under 21, who do not count towards the cap, extra valuable when it comes to recruitment.

League One transfer tracker: All the summer 2020 moves

That is likely to see the market for young loan players from Premier League and Championship clubs become a key battleground, as League One sides with the resources will be able to push the boat out without worrying about the cap.

Liverpool’s Ben Woodburn, who spent last season with the U’s, would still fit into that category, although he has been linked with a spell in Germany.

By contrast, another loanee from last season - West Ham's Nathan Holland - is now 22 so counts as a senior player, becoming comparatively less attractive financially.

Banbury Cake:

  • Nathan Holland in action for Oxford United last season   Picture: David Fleming

The positive for United is they are already set up for such a model, having gained a reputation with several top-flight clubs as being a good home to develop young players since Michael Appleton’s time in charge.

So while the new rules will restrict United’s ambition, fitting into them should not require a radical change of approach.

There will be opportunities for clubs who can recruit intelligently and put faith in youth, areas in which the U’s have a decent track record, particularly under Robinson.

Finally, although it places constraints on what the club can do, the rules make it easier to achieve sustainability.

While they have not made headlines for financial problems in the past year, the previous issues should not be forgotten – they are still heavily reliant on support from the board.

Reducing that dependence, or the need to sell star players quite so regularly, is no bad thing.

A salary cap is not what United wanted, but their circumstances mean they can still succeed.