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Sunday 18 August 2019

Liverpool legend calls for salary caps to be introduced to control Man City's spending

Pep Guardiola will have his players fully prepared for the FA Cup final
Pep Guardiola will have his players fully prepared for the FA Cup final
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

John Barnes has called for salary caps to be introduced in European football, as he believes it is the only way to control the financial explosion in the game.

Manchester City will become the first club in the history of English football to win a domestic treble if they add FA Cup success to their Premier League and Carabao Cup victories when they take on Watford in Saturday's final at Wembley.

And while former Hornets winger Barnes stops short of suggesting what would be a historic achievement for City will be diluted by their financial dominance over their rival, he thinks the moment has come for controls to be placed on club's spending.

"I am a firm advocate of a salary cap as that was instantly begin to level the playing field," BT Sport pundit Barnes told Independent.ie. "When I suggest this, people always say it can't work and clubs would find a way of getting around it, but it has been effective in other sports around the world and I don't see any reason why football cannot follow suit.

"What a salary cap would do is encourage clubs to invest in young players and change this culture of signing five players every summer for millions upon millions and if those signings don't work, rip it up and start again in the next transfer window.

"This is not a criticism of Manchester City and the position they are in now because clearly, they are a fantastic team, led by a great manager and even though they have more money than anyone else, they have still had to be wise in the way they have spent it.

"It is too simplistic to say City have bought the Premier League title or that they have bought the treble if that is what they do this weekend. A lot of teams have spent big money in the last few years and not managed to achieve the success of City, so you have to congratulate them on what they have done.

"However, the potential is there for City to dominate English football for years to come unless something is done to change the structure of the game and control the way clubs manage their finances. I think a salary cap would do that."

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Barnes believes his former club Watford have to believe they can halt City's march towards a domestic treble, as he suggests the model for victory may have been laid out for them by Leicester earlier this month.

"You look at the way Brendan Rodgers set up his Leicester team to play against City in the Premier League a couple of weeks back and it was effective," he adds. "They cut down City's space in midfield, limited their chances and you could see the frustration kicking in.

"City are dangerous in the wide areas with Raheem Sterling and their full-backs bombing forward so you need to stop that supply line and if you do that, there is always a chance that a one-off Cup Final can go your way.

"Vincent Kompany's incredible goal got City over the final in that game against Leicester and if Watford can keep them at bay until the closing stages of this FA Cup final and try and nick a goal on a set-piece or with a long-range shot, they will have a chance.

"Watford will probably get the popular support of most fans on Saturday because rival teams will not want to see City dominating English football for years to come and while it is hard to see any rest other than another trophy for Pep Guardiola's team, Cup Finals occasions throw up a surprise result, as I know only too well.

"I was part of the Liverpool team that lost the 1988 FA Cup final against Wimbledon and no-one thought it was possible that we would lose on that occasions, so that shows there is always a chance of an upset in a one-off game at Wembley."

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