Liverpool have been banned from signing academy players for the next two years and fined £100,000 by the Premier League after being found guilty of breaching regulations in their attempts to sign a youngster from Stoke City.
An investigation was launched after the Merseyside club admitted to having spoken to the player - who was 11 years old at the time - in an effort to sign him from Stoke's academy.
The Premier League has determined that Liverpool's conduct in their attempts to bring the player to Anfield - specifically when they gave him and his family an expenses-paid trip to a senior match - had "contravened league rules" when it was made.
Liverpool admitted to the rule breaches but have still been hit with a fine and ban on signing academy players, although the second year of that ban will be suspended for a three-year period.
In a statement, the Premier League confirmed that they had "sanctioned Liverpool FC in respect of the club's approaches towards, and offer of inducements to, an academy player registered with another club".
"The Academy player concerned was previously registered at Stoke City FC. An application by Liverpool in September 2016 to register him, following Liverpool and Stoke agreeing compensation, was rejected by the Premier League Board due to an offer to pay the player's private school fees.
"In an investigation following that rejection, the Premier League found evidence that Liverpool's conduct prior to applying to register the player contravened League rules.
"The League found evidence demonstrating regular communications between representatives of the club and members of the player's family. This included hosting them at Anfield for a match with expenses paid and other efforts to encourage the player, via his family, to sign for Liverpool. League rules strictly prohibit the offer of any inducements to encourage a move.
"Liverpool have cooperated with the Premier League's inquiries in a timely and thorough manner and admitted the rule breaches asserted against them.
"The club will pay a fine of £100,000 and will be prohibited from registering any Academy players who have been registered with a Premier League or EFL club in the preceding 18 months.
"This ban will last for two years, with the second year suspended for a three-year period (to be activated in the event of any further similar breach by the club)."
The Premier League Board rejected Liverpool's application to register the youngster, who is now without a club, last September due to their offer to pay for his private school fees
It is reported that the Premier League's decision to change their guidelines to ban such pledges to individual players would have forced Liverpool to offer all their academy players the same incentive.
The club withdrew that part of their proposal, prompting the youngster and his family to reject the move from Stoke and accuse Liverpool of going back on their promises.
That complaint prompted the investigation, which then unearthed the additional elements included in Liverpool's offer, such as the match tickets. Premier League rules prohibit any kind of offer of inducements to encourage a player to move clubs.
The ban will not prevent Liverpool from signing young players to join the first-team squad, nor will it stop them from recruiting players for the academy if they are not affiliated with other clubs in the Premier League or English Football League.