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By Tony Attwood
If you are a regular reader of Untold you will know that we have been following a situation in football in which it appears that clubs might be getting around their long-term responsibility to children (ie under 16 year olds) that play for their youth teams.
This relates in particular to the situation with injuries that these young players might get. The suspicion (and I stress that I don’t personally have any medical experience nor the evidence to back up this claim, it is a story that just keeps on popping up) is that young players are being overplayed, not getting the medical treatment they need when injured, and then if the youngster does not recover from the injury, the player is then simply dismissed from the academy without compensation.
Now of course such an action could be deemed as the club behaving negligently, especially as it relates to a young player – and we might initially think that major football clubs would not be involved in such dirty tricks.
But on the other hand we might remember that in 2017 the Telegraph reported that “The Premier League has threatened to sue a 13-year-old schoolboy and his parents who blew the whistle on the Liverpool tapping-up scandal.” In essence, the Premier League issued a warning that these parents would face legal action if they made defamatory comments in public about its handling of the case!!! Given some of the things that are said about football clubs and the Premier League, that seemed horribly over the top.
In that case it was, as the Telegraph said, “unclear why the Premier League would warn of legal action against the boy or his family given its repeated statements pledging to help find a constructive outcome in their dispute with Liverpool.”
Now in a new case we have been following, but on which, I must stress, I have not seen independent evidence, the statement at the foot of this page has been circulating on social media.
The point here is not the rights and wrongs of this individual case, on which of course I cannot comment as I have no independent evidence, but rather the specific reason that the League doesn’t seem to want to get involved. As I understand the matter, the case hinges on the fact that the medical records of the boy involved have gone “missing”.
I am sure that this is just an unfortunate mishap, but it does raise a point about a ludicrous weakness in relation to the employment of children by football clubs.
All there has to be is a rule that all children’s medical records are duplicated and stored with the FA, so that no club is able to say, as allegedly has been said here, that the records are lost. If there were such a rule, and the fine for “losing” or “tampering with” such records were to be expulsion from the league, I think the treatment of youngsters by clubs could improve overnight.
This of course leads to the inevitable point: if the solution is that simple (through the passing of a simple rule, which clubs could obey instantly) why has no one done it? What on earth is keeping the Football Association, the Football League and Premier League from taking this action now, immediately? All that is needed is an email address to which copies of medical records are sent, and a bit of software that takes those files and stores them on two separate hard drives held in two different places.
As I understand it, nothing has happened, even though we mentioned this before and really I am starting to wonder why. Here’s the piece currently circulating on social media from one anguished parent.
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