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Liverpool Being Taken to Court in Academy Tapping-Up Case

The family of the Stoke City academy player Liverpool improperly approached are taking the club to court.

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As far as the Premier League are concerned, the matter is ended, but with their son in footballing limbo and the family on the hook for schooling fees that in the past would have been paid by Stoke City, the parents of the 12-year-old caught up in Liverpool's academy tapping-up scandal are taking the club to court.

The central accusation in the case, according to The Telegraph, will be that Liverpool altered documents to make them appear less culpable for the resultant situation, changing dates on a signed agreement between the club and the family of the player from September 1st to September 21st.

As originally outlined, the family allege Liverpool had agreed to pay their son's schooling fees for the year following his decision to sign with Liverpool from Stoke City, and that as dated—on the 2nd, before the school year had started—it would have made Liverpool responsible for that year.

By changing it to the 21st, the family allege Liverpool were trying to make it appear as though the family would have been set to pay all schooling fees for the year regardless of his imminent transfer to Liverpool's academy—a transfer that broke down following charges they had offered forbidden inducements to the youngster's family.

After those charges were made, Liverpool were forced to back out of signing the young player, but as he had already ended his association with Stoke City—and as, with Liverpool backing out, there was nobody to pay the training compensation—the player was left unable to join any other academy.

Regardless of any allegations of a changed date, this is a case that reflects terribly on Liverpool. It reflects just as poorly—and perhaps even more so, given their remit as governing body—on the Premier League, whose punishment of Liverpool failed utterly to account for the player's situation.

The league rules on contact and compensation at the youth level—rules to prevent tapping-up—are meant to protect the clubs but they are also meant to protect young players and their families, and the league's decision to fine Liverpool and give the club a suspended sentence only showed a concern for the former.

A just ruling, one meant to deter a club like Liverpool from violating league rules and of protecting the young player and his family, would have sought a way to punish the club while allowing him to join another club's academy and for his parents to pay for his schooling in the interim.

Liverpool broke the rules and it left a young footballer and his family in limbo, and the club deserve punishment for that. That should have only been half of the equation, though, and that the player's family are now having to take the club to court is a sad reflection of that fact.

"What Liverpool have done brings shame on that football club," read a statement from the player's father. "They have ruined my son's career and left him in despair. He has been in limbo for a year now, thanks to the £49,000 price on his head, and is being blackballed by other clubs.

"No-one will touch him. The Premier League's handling of this case has only made matters worse. The richest league in the world sells its dream of football to youngsters across the globe but its rules have created a nightmare for my lad."

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