The Premier League is scrutinising Manchester City’s signing of an academy footballer as young as 11 years old.
The transfer is one of three academy signings made by City that are being reviewed by League officials after concerns were flagged as part of their strict protocol governing academy deals. The boy is a midfielder who was signed from Everton last year. In addition, the recruitment of a 15-year-old midfielder from Wolverhampton
Wanderers – who we are also not naming – is being looked at as part of the new “five-step process” introduced by the League in July last year to ensure moves between Category One academies are above board.
City’s signing of Louie Moulden, a 16-year-old goalkeeper, from Liverpool last summer has also still to be ratified as the League continue with its inquiries.
Moulden is the son of Paul Moulden, the former striker who began his professional career at City.
The League employs an external law firm, Bird & Bird, to assist the process of scrutinising academy deals, which can involve examining phone and bank records of parties involved.
City insist the investigations are a routine application of the League’s five step process and are awaiting the findings.
The Premier League is determined to get tough with anyone who flouts its rules after concerns were raised about the recruitment practices of some clubs.
Earlier this month, Liverpool were given a two-year ban, the second year of which was suspended, and fined £100,000 for tapping up an 11-year-old at Stoke City.
The seriousness of that case led to a more formal investigation by the League.
Liverpool are now prevented from signing any academy players who have been registered with a Premier League or Football League Club in the previous 18 months.
The Daily Telegraph revealed the shocking lengths to which Liverpool were allegedly prepared to go to conceal forbidden inducements made to the schoolboy and his family.
The case also left the youngster’s parents in thousands of pounds of debt and the boy – who is now 13 – unable to join another academy until his former club Stoke are paid £49,000.