Liverpool were in danger of being hit with a transfer ban on Thursday over claims they tapped up and offered a forbidden inducement to a Stoke City schoolboy.
Telegraph Sport has learnt that the Anfield club are on the brink of being punished by the Premier League over the allegations and have been attempting to negotiate an agreed sanction.
That would almost certainly involve a fine but may also see Liverpool hit with a transfer ban – part or all of which could be suspended – on academy players.
Any live ban would see the club join the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in being hit by such a sanction for breaking youth transfer rules.
As exclusively revealed by the Telegraph last week, Liverpool have also been accused of reneging on an agreement to pay the unnamed Stoke youngster’s school fees, leaving his parents – who pulled out of a deal with the club as a result – in thousands of pounds of debt.
To compound the family’s woes, the boy now cannot join another team until Stoke receive a compensation fee of almost £50,000.
An investigation into the claims was launched earlier this year by the Premier League, which ironically had already been looking into allegations related to a grievance Liverpool had about one of their own schoolboys joining Manchester City.
Both of the controversial transfers date back to last summer, when the Reds allegedly tapped up a 12-year-old considered to be one of Stoke’s best youngsters.
The Potters had been paying the boy’s school fees as part of a contract signed by his parents, who wanted Liverpool to do the same.
The Reds are alleged to have agreed to do so until the player turned 16, breaching a rule introduced around that time forbidding the practice unless a club offers to pay for all their schoolchildren to be educated privately.
It is claimed that, upon learning of this, Liverpool refused to honour their commitment, leaving the player’s parents liable for thousands of pounds in fees.
Those would have been continued to be paid by Stoke had the boy not moved to Anfield – even if he had been released by his former club.
The youngster’s footballing future was also left limbo due to a controversial rule that prevents him playing for another team until Stoke are paid £49,000 in compensation.
A source with knowledge of the Premier League investigation said last week: “This is a shocking example of how children in Premier League football are being used and abused.
“This kid has done nothing wrong at all but he’s been left out in the cold and his parents are having to foot the bill for private education that they can’t afford.
“The whole thing is a total disgrace. Everyone at the top of the Premier League and both football clubs are fully aware of what has gone on, and it is something that must be stamped out of the game.
“Everyone knows how children’s lives and education are being ruined with the promise of football riches and it needs to stop.”
Telegraph Sport revealed last year that children as young as 10 were being frozen out of the English’s game’s academy system because of compensation fees parents were unwittingly signing up to.
The Premier League declined to comment on the punishment faced by Liverpool, who the Telegraph was seeking comment from on Thursday.
The investigation into the Anfield club is one of a handful it is understood is being conducted into alleged breaches of rules on the transfer of academy players.
The league was forced to introduce a new five-step process for ratifying such moves following mounting concerns about the poaching of youngsters within the division.
One of those steps involves parents and clubs signing a declaration that no inducements have been offered for a schoolboy to switch allegiance, with the Premier League able to demand the phone records of all involved if it has any suspicions to the contrary.