Liverpool have accepted they made an illegal approach to a 12-year-old Stoke City player and been handed a transfer ban on signing Academy players from other English clubs.
The Premier League punishment was announced tonight after the Reds effectively admitted they approached the player’s family before they were entitled to do so.
The “tapping up” process also involved paying for the youngster and some of his family to attend a game at Anfield.
Liverpool have been handed a two-year ban on signing any player who has been with another Premier League club or any English Football league Club in the previous 18 months. Foreign deals are not affected.
Players such as Raheem Sterling, Jordon Ibe, Ovie Ejaria, Rhian Brewster and Sheyi Ojo have all arrived at Kirkby from other English clubs in recent years so the ban could prove exceedingly costly.
It will last two years, with the second year suspended for three years pending any further breaches.
The club will also pay a £100,000 fine in an episode which is sure to cause considerable embarrassment throughout the Anfield hierarchy.
Liverpool have been found in breach of Premier League rule 299.1 which states that “no Club shall induce or attempt to induce a player to become registered as an Academy Player by that Club by offering him, or any person connected with him, either directly or indirectly, a benefit or payment of any description whether in cash or in kind”.
The facts in this case involved a youngster at Stoke whose school fees were being paid by the Potters.
It is claimed Liverpool had offered to continue paying his school fees until he was 16 but this was blocked by a change in the rules.
New guidelines stated that such an offer can only be made if a club pays for all the schoolchildren on their books to be educated privately. That’s not the case with Liverpool, who send their youngsters to Rainhill High School.
Liverpool went to the Premier League to seek clarification and it was at this point that it triggered an investigation and the sanctions announced tonight.
While it was initially believed Liverpool were intending to deny the charge and had simply been caught out by the rule change, the Reds have now accepted the charge.
They admitted they approached the player too early but insist they did not pull out of the deal for the player, rather it was blocked by the Premier League.
A spokesman for LFC said: “We accept the sanction.”
It has been a fine year for Liverpool’s Academy – with Premier League debuts for the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ben Woodburn and Ejaria – but the world of signing young talent is an often murky one.
In this case the boy’s family claim they have been left thousands of pounds in debt by the school fees after the Liverpool deal was abandoned while he can not sign for another club until Stoke receive £50,000 in compensation.