“What are they smoking at Anfield?” John Henry’s jibe against Arsenal comes back to haunt him, as the club sinks in the mire.

By Tony Attwood

“What are they smoking at Liverpool?” is a question that could be said by an Arsenal director, if any wanted to remind the principal owner of Liverpool of what turned out to be a rather foolish jibe at Arsenal’s expense.  A foolish jibe because he later let slip in a sports conference in the USA that as Untold and a few other media sources had been saying for a while, there most certainly was a £40m buy out clause for Suarez.  Something Henry vigorously denied and which most of the media were happy to seize upon at Arsenal’s expense.

Thus when Henry said, “What do you think they’re smoking over there at Emirates?” on 24 July 2013 everyone laughed at Arsenal.   Even when  the following March he admitted in a speech at a sports conference that he lied repeatedly and that there was indeed a buy out clause of £40m in the Suarez contract the media took Liverpool’s side.

But things have changed, it seems for today the Daily Telegraph is running the headline “Exclusive: ‘Appalling’ Liverpool tapping-up scandal should be investigated independently, says Damian Collins.”

This relates to the tapping up scandal that we have mentioned a few times in articles on current-day corruption in football.  Now we find Liverpool have been accused of ‘submitting a “falsified” document to the Premier League when trying to lure a 12-year-old schoolboy from Stoke City.’

Now what makes the two stories linked is the fact that in his notorious speech, laughing at how he conned and kidded Arsenal as the club tried to bid for Suarez, Henry’s theme was that contracts and rules in “soccer” in England meant absolutely nothing, that it was a wild west scenario where there were no rules.

And it appears that philosophy has been creeping all the way through the club.   Liverpool FC are now apparently facing legal action from the boy at the centre of the scandal.  Liverpool tried to tap him up, and in that botched attempt, have left the boy “unable to play academy football and his parents in thousands of pounds of debt”.  He can’t play until Liverpool pay £49,000 compensation to Stoke.

Worse, this story (as you will know if you ponder the pages of Untold regularly) has been going on for over three months.   Liverpool, in addition to everything else we have previously covered relating to this case, now find themselves accused of falsifying the date of a signature on his academy player registration application.  In short, fixing the evidence.

And all this soon after Liverpool had to withdraw from their bid to get a Southampton player, because they were attempting to tap him up as well.

Now Parliament has got involved as there are recommendations that the issue should be investigated by MPs.   All the chairs of the very powerful Parliamentary Committees have now been elected following the General Election, and Damian Collins MP is back running the Culture, Media & Sport select committee.  In an newspaper interview Mr Collins said he wanted to examine what he called this “appalling” case.

That would mean senior staff and directors of Liverpool FC and reps of the Premier League would be summoned to Parliament to face cross examination.

Although there will be a delay because Parliament now goes into recess for the summer, Mr Collins said, “I think it’s incredibly serious and something that the committee should look at.”
What makes the issue so appalling is that the Premier League (note this: the Premier League) has been accused of threatening to sue the boy and its family for exposing the case to the media.  The reason for this is that it is Premier League rules that have screwed up the boy’s future.  PL rules say that until the compensation from Liverpool is paid, the boy can’t play.  In other words the boy suffers for the behaviour (seemingly illicit behaviour) of Liverpool FC.

Mr Collins added, “It’s appalling and what is shows is that no-one is standing up for the victim and the victim is the boy.  If the Premier League don’t have either the power or the inclination to resolve it then raises the question of whether matters like this should be settled by the Football Association or some other body that will come in and demand a proper settlement is made.”

OK, we all know it is laughable to imagine the FA could sort out the sticking of a postage stamp on a letter and finding a letter box, but it is still good to find a chair of the sport committee beginning to see just how appalling the action of some clubs can be, and how weak the rules are that protect youngsters.

As media consultant Jonathan Hartley is quoted as saying,  “The public has a strong sense of natural justice and the fact that a young lad has been left unable to play football after his family correctly blew the whistle on tapping-up doesn’t sit well. Add to that that the suggestion that the Premier League is said to be using its financial might to issue legal threats to the 13-year-old and his family and the whole situation will be viewed as quite unsavoury.”

In their most recent statement the Premier League appears to have realised its faux pas in all this with a spokesman saying, “The young person at the centre of this matter is in a difficult situation and, through dialogue with lawyers representing him and his family, we have offered to help.  We hope to play our part in achieving a constructive outcome for the young person.”

As for the falsified document, it is said that the father and son completed the document just before the boy was to start at a private school, with the fees paid for by Liverpool.   The allegation is that the club told the boy and father not to put a date next to their signatures.  The father refused to do this, and dated the document.
According to the Telegraph

“The next time the family saw the document – after it had been submitted to the Premier League – all the signatures on it were dated  September 21, including the father’s, beneath which a ‘1’ had been inserted after his initial ‘2’.

The new date made it appear he and his son had signed more than two weeks after the latter had started school, rather than three days beforehand and the father apparently told the League of the fraud, but the League failed to act.

The League then also put a stop to any investigation of the way Liverpool had attempted to sign Virgil van Dijk in which Southampton clearly accused Liverpool of yet more tapping up.  Liverpool then said that non-dating of documents was “standard practice” suggesting wholesale corruption in such matters.

It appears that it was about this time that the League then threatened to take action AGAINST the boy and his father.

Meanwhile Manchester City have also been found guilty of tapping up two schoolboys, but in their case they have agreed to pay the school fees of the boys who were left stranded in similar circumstances.

Liverpool are now banned signing schoolboys registered with rival academy during the previous 18 months.

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25 Replies to ““What are they smoking at Anfield?” John Henry’s jibe against Arsenal comes back to haunt him, as the club sinks in the mire.”

  1. Still gutted over failing to get Suarez I see, don’t worry give it six or seven years, you’ll get over it


  2. @ dws

    That’s what we like, a well reasoned argument backed up with substantive evidence……………………

  3. Have you not got your own problems to sort out down there!? like getting rid of that god awful stale Manager that you all now hate and loath! Instead of telling tales and whinging about what everyone else is doing, i.e ‘tapping up’ coz no one else in the League does it do they!?…. surely not.

  4. Wow-the bitterness is long with this one.

    Surprised you bring up a case where Arsenal tried to tap up Suarez to try to make Liverpool sound like some evil empire. All clubs contact players they want to sign. Don’t be so naive.

  5. I must admit, if those sentiments are true on the falsified document, it looks pretty bad for the club. However, why would bring up the Suarez case? Absolutely no relation what so ever apart from banter.

  6. Can they put together any real arguments in the red part of Liverpool? Or is this beyond most of them?

  7. TGR I think there is a connection with Suarez in that the media swung completely behind Liverpool in that case whereas now there is a groundswell of media opinion against them. One of the themes of this website is that of tracing the way the media move and their biases towards and against certain clubs and elements within football.

  8. DavLFC – the subtitle of this blog is “Football news from an Arsenal perspective”. We’ve been doing it for nearly ten years and it seems quite popular – and indeed not only with Arsenal fans. I’m sorry you missed the banner headline.

  9. “Surprised you bring up a case where Arsenal tried to tap up Suarez to try to make Liverpool sound like some evil empire. ”

    Hmm. Guessing “pitiable liars” is probably closer to reality. OK.
    Good for you then!


  10. Dale, it is interesting that you bring up that point, as a significant number of other Liverpool supporters have done this afternoon. Certainly in relation to the article and what the author thinks, I would suggest you might avoid the job of mind reader if ever offered the chance. But thank you for not using abuse or swear words in your reply, so that we could publish this one.

  11. Slight tangent but sticking to idiotic quotes:

    Jonathan Wilson hacks:
    “How are historians going to explain a society that has lived under austerity for seven years yet smiles benignly at a decent right-back going for £50m”

    When are hacks pretending to be journalists going to write about mafia clubs in the present day. The 1919 scandal in the US was (only!) a hundred years ago, so we can’t even use the usual casual racism against Italians in the wake of Calcioploi as some kind of pathetic defence.

    With hacks like these?

  12. Disgusting practice from Liverpool and even more from the Premier League with deliberate attempts to brush things under the carpet.

    Looks like reports in Germany highlight RB Leipzig issuing final warning to Liverpool for their “alleged” tapping up (2nd tapping up of the season) of the midfielder Naby Keita.

  13. Hello Team,
    Please what is the legal/correct process for inquiry/purchase of a player at another club?
    Just to know where the lines of fault emanates

  14. I would think the Premier League management board is made up of members who are shrouded in the like of Italy’s Sicilian mafia organization whom I read about their criminal escapades in one of the James Hardly Chase fiction novels in those days. And also watched their regime activities in a film called, “The God Father” where Michael, the son of one mafia tycoon assassinated his late father’s mafia rival lords on the instructions given to him by his father before he died.

    Hmmm, we should not be surprised to see the Premier League management board coming to the defence of Liverpool FC’s board and owner directly or indirectly by not taking any punitive action against them and the owner. Because Liverpool FC is one of their financial paying contribution club members. Whenever Liverpool flagrantly breached any of the Premier League and the FA in-placed rules and order put in place to control the activities of the PL clubs management boards and their owners, and after Henry, said, he deliberately told a lie to say, there is no any activating clause written into Louis Saurez contract at Liverpool, what did the Premier League board and the FA do to Liverpool? Nothing. Whereas, they ought to be punished for their deceiving. Their deceiving which hindered Arsenal bid of £40 plus £1 that triggered Saurez’s release clause to pass through which could have seen the player sign for Arsenal.

    @Goonermikey, I responded in my own way to the UA’s last article posting that threaded before this one that is now threading. And I saw all your quarries of my comment posting comments which I made.

    Let me say it’s the media transfer rumours that we read that we rely on mostly for information about our club transfer activities in a window. Incoming or outgoing as the case maybe. Our club, Arsenal don’t and will go about saying to us the Gooners that they’ll sign player A or B or transfer out Player C or D in a window.

    Not to prolong my defence for the query you gave me, hasn’t it become an open secret after a club is linked with a player transfer and later we read in the media that this club that has shown interest to sign the player has submitted a bid to his club for his transfer, and thereafter, we read on some credible media outlets like the BBC and others that the bid has been rejected or accepted by his club and the player is having a medical, e.g. at London Colney. What else do we want other than a confirmation by Arsenal that they’ve signed Lacazette, whose sign on fee was not disclose by Arsenal on there website but we come to know the price at which he was signed (£52m) in the media which you are querying me that, how did I know this or that?

  15. Those saying that Arsenal was tapping up Suarez are wrong.
    Arsenal filed a bid of 40M+1 towards Liverpool (the club) and then the procedure would have been that Liverpool should allow Suarez to talk to Liverpool. But Liverpool refused Suarez to talk to Arsenal.

    How Arsenal knew about the 40M release clause? That is something for Liverpool to sort out. If people say a player has a release clause of XM then a club can always try to trigger that release clause by making a bid.

  16. All very interesting and I am sure will pick up steam once the MP’s return from their summer holidays.

    I would refrain quoting John Henry because Dick Law did not exactly cover himself with glory with that extra £1. It will be decades before a more ridiculous bid is made or this summer. Never has a £40m plus offer been so laughable I imagine in any business setting. I wonder if he called Arsene in Asia (at the time) to let him know what was going on or if the time difference meant it would have been inconvenient.

    I really would love to know how it got cocked up…

  17. Great article Tony.

    That is one dirty practice that can never be associated with Arsenal. Doing things strictly to laid down rules is much more important than trophies. If those in charge refuse to punish Liverpool FC appropriately then the English FA are only brooding tigers. One day they(FA) will play into FIFA’s hands and get truly hammered.

  18. Dick Law did not exactly cover himself with glory with that extra £1

    Dammy. What exactly were Arsenal supposed to do? The clause was to be activated by a bid OVER 40m. If Arsenal had bid 40m, they would legally not have triggered the clause. The 1 pound was to meet the legal requirement of the clause that Liverpool had set. Are you suggesting Arsenal should have paid Liverpool more than the valuation they themselves had put on Suarez?

  19. Laws are made by those who feel that the same laws do not apply to them, due to their criminal character.

    Others ride this bandwagon and do not follow the laws.

    Honest people do adhere to the (corrupt and false)laws because of their honest character.

    Take a good look at many laws, we can see that they mostly favour the lawless and the corrupt and ignores the victims.

    Only in cases where it is all blown wide open does the law tend to have some semblance of order and fairness, because the corrupt usually fear public opinion, a public opinion that can damage their businesses.

    So as i said before, it is impossible to expect honest laws from a corrupt leadership.

    The mantra of these “mafia” like governments and organisations is: “DONT GET CAUGHT!

  20. This is certainly a disgraceful case on behalf of LFC – if indeed they are guilty of the charges put forward.

    Unfortunately, Mr Collins will simply use it as a tool to make an example of one club, rather than continue looking at potential corruption in the FA, EPL and especially PGMO as a whole.

    The extended summer recess in parliament will simply be used by those accused to get their act together. This should have gone to the Fraud Squad long before the dissolution of Parliament for the last GE!

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