Leading football agent who represented Raheem Sterling accused of repeatedly signing underage players

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Raheem Sterling.
Raheem Sterling.

A leading football agent who represented Raheem Sterling has been accused of repeatedly breaking Football Association rules by signing underage players.

Aidy Ward, who owns Colossal Sports Management, allegedly asked Sterling, his former top client, to speak via video-call to one 15-year-old boy in a bid to attract the schoolboy to his agency.

The Manchester City and England forward dropped Ward late last year, but, according to a new BBC Panorama programme, he was asked to call the boy and his mother while they had dinner with Ward.

Ward was already under investigation by the FA over a potential breach of FA rules prohibiting agents from offering deals to the families of players until the January of the year the player turns 16.

Colossal Sports Management, with whom Sterling also has shares, were contacted by Telegraph Sport for comment over the new BBC evidence.

Ward told the corporation he cannot comment out of respect for the investigation process, while Sterling’s lawyers said that as an England international he feels a responsibility to speak to aspiring players and has done so for many different people, including a couple of times at Ward’s request. However, the BBC clarified that Sterling did not speak to them about agents or financial issues and he supports FA rules designed to protect young players.

Panorama claims to have obtained a series of leaked emails and messages showing how the agent has been trying to build his business by signing young players to Colossal. The parents of seven footballers, all under 16, said that Colossal had made approaches.

The programme also claims to have the minutes of a Colossal Sports Management 2017 meeting, which includes a list of players the agency wanted – six of whom were 14 or younger at the time.

Foday Nabay, 23, claims on the programme that he was approached by Ward when he was just 12 years old. He had been training with Birmingham City’s Academy, and said Ward suggested a move to Fulham, who were in the Premier League at the time.

Nabay tells the programme: “I didn’t want to go there in the first place, I didn’t feel like I ever really settled in. I would be on my phone to my friend on the way to training crying saying how much I didn’t want to go. It was very painful."

Ward is said to deny being Nabay’s agent, but the programme says tonight that it has obtained a series of "confidential emails from 2013 which appear to contradict his claim".

One Premier League scout, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the programme of allegedly underhand tactics used by a number of agencies. “They target a single-mum family because it's easy," the agent said. "It all starts from a very, very young age”.

Ward has not responded to Panorama or Telegraph Sport in relation to the scout's claims.

The FA, meanwhile, said in a statement: "The professional leagues and their clubs are primarily responsible for the development and wellbeing of players who are active in the elite academy system, and bespoke regulations are employed throughout. They also provide a wide variety of support services to both scholars and former youth players who are no longer involved in the game alongside the Professional Footballers’ Association [PFA]. We work closely with all of these stakeholders as the governing body of English football to ensure that the highest possible standards are upheld and the welfare of both current and former players is prioritised."

BBC Panorama ‘Football’s Broken Dreams’ airs tonight on BBC One at 7:35pm

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