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John Giles: Fair play for Bony but not for all


Wilfried Bony has been linked with a big-money move to Manchester City

Wilfried Bony has been linked with a big-money move to Manchester City

Wilfried Bony has been linked with a big-money move to Manchester City

At some point in the next few days, Wilfred Bony will become a very wealthy young man. He is already a wealthy young man by most standards but Manchester City's willingness to hand over huge money for him means that he is now numbered among an elite.

I'm pretty certain that the Uefa Financial Fair play rules won't impact on him at all despite widespread reports that Manchester City have been restricted in the amount they can pay him because of a wage freeze.

Manchester City have already been very creative in finding ways around the freeze most notably when they signed Frank Lampard through their feeder club in America on loan.

So I don't doubt they're working to structure Bony's wage package in such a way that he gets the kind of salary a £35m transfer merits and Uefa's bean counters can sign off on it. Football has always found a way in these circumstances.

Still, I'd love to know how a club which has been fined for breaching regulations and spending too much on their playing staff can shell out such an enormous amount of money for yet another player.

I have no doubt that Manchester City are sticking to the regime imposed by Uefa but it hasn't stopped them spending so you would have to question whether the Financial Fair Play rule is working.

Manuel Pellegrini has acted as any manager should and clearly went to his employers and pointed out the fact that he hasn't been able to keep any of his three strikers fit since the season started. Sergio Aguero is on the way back after injury and Edin Dzeko and Stefan Jovetic have been out more than in since August.

But surely the whole point of transfer windows and financial fair play was to stop exactly what Manchester City are doing.; to stop a rich club from effectively buying a title at the expense of the development of smaller clubs.

The temptation dangled in front of Swansea was overwhelming. Survival in the Premier League is the priority and in one move, they have secured their balance sheet for the year and probably freed up cash to add some players to the squad.

But that is two steps back and just one step forward. The Swanseas of this world will always be scrambling to catch up while bigger clubs are able to raid them in mid-season for their best players.

This is part of the genetics of football and unless there is a fundamental change to a draft system like they use in American football, it will always be the same.

Properly enforced regulation would help and of course, if they were really serious about keeping the playing field level, they would simply close the January window altogether.

To date, there has only been one winner when football's sometimes archaic rules are challenged and I suspect that we are not far off a moment when a player, perhaps someone in Bony's circumstances, chooses to take on a Uefa imposed wage cap in a court.

He will win. When you think about it, how can anyone dictate how much a private company chooses to pay its employees?

Sure, clubs sign up to the Uefa rulebook and Manchester City accepted a fine and a wage freeze under the new rules. But there is nothing to stop a player going to court and demanding the same rights as other professions enjoy. Marc Bosman did exactly that and football changed forever.

There will always be winners and losers. Competitive sport requires results. The question is where you draw the line and the consequences which follow if you don't.

Alex Ferguson's greatest achievement was to build teams from within Old Trafford. He spent plenty of money but the core of his operation was a group of lads who grew up with him.

My fear is that we will never see this happen again. Two billion pound clubs in Manchester have only a handful of home grown players. They think nothing of spending hundreds of millions on transfers and salaries. Only in Germany and Italy do we see top clubs populated by home grown talent. The Germans poured effort, energy and cash into their under-age programme and are producing players. Serie A is broke.

Even at Real Madrid and Barcelona, clubs that both benefited from a golden generation of Spanish footballers in the last decade, the best are now imports.

Do the fans care? Manchester City's supporters will be delighted that their manager has made an adjustment in mid-season which could significantly help their chances of winning a big trophy this season.

This summer, Southampton was asset-stripped and lost manager and players. Ronald Koeman has come in and done a remarkable job with another crop of talented footballers. Who is to say they won't be sold next summer? In fact, I would have a bet that some of them, at least will.

That's the problem. If a club like Manchester City can throw apparently limitless money around within the rules, what chance does a Southampton season ticket holder have of ever seeing the club captain lift the Premier League trophy?

None. Take away hope and you kill the game.