Liverpool face fine and transfer ban after tapping up Stoke schoolboy

Andy Hunter
The Guardian
<span class="element-image__caption">Liverpool are the subject of an investigation after complaints about their alleged tapping up of a schoolboy. </span> <span class="element-image__credit">Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA</span>
Liverpool are the subject of an investigation after complaints about their alleged tapping up of a schoolboy. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA

Liverpool could be banned from signing academy players over allegations they breached Premier League rules when tapping up a schoolboy from Stoke City.

Liverpool are one of a number of clubs being investigated for poaching young talent as the Premier League seeks to enforce new rules on academy transfers. The Anfield club, who have been in negotiations with the League over a potential sanction, could be fined or hit with a transfer embargo if found guilty of offering a banned inducement to the former Stoke player. Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid have faced similar embargoes in recent seasons.

The ongoing investigation centres on a complaint that Liverpool reneged on a deal to pay the 12-year-old’s private school fees, leaving his parents in thousands of pounds of debt. Stoke had been paying the fees until the player, regarded as one of their brightest talents, accepted an offer to join Liverpool with an inducement that the Anfield club would pay for his education until the age of 16.

When discovering that new rules introduced last summer meant the club would have to pay for all of their schoolchildren to be privately educated, it is alleged, Liverpool withdrew the offer, prompting the boy’s parents to pull out of the deal. However, the boy cannot sign for another club until Stoke have received a compensation fee of £49,000 from Liverpool and, in the meantime, the parents have been left liable for school fees that are believed to run into thousands.

The Premier League, ironically, is also investigating a complaint from Liverpool over the departure of one of their academy players to Manchester City.

Rules were introduced last summer in an attempt by the Premier League to address growing concerns over poaching and the number of children unable to join academies because of compensation demands. Parents and clubs must now sign a declaration that no inducements have been offered as part of a transfer. Liverpool are expected to be fined by the Premier League and could also be placed under a transfer embargo.

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