By Tony Attwood
You will know that Arsenal have been drawn against Liverpool in the League Cup, and you may have heard that Liverpool have been charged with playing an ineligible player in the previous round.
As a result of that indictment a number of media sources have started to say that Liverpool could be thrown out of the league cup. As for example “Liverpool face expulsion from Carabao Cup after investigation launched,” in the Metro.
And “Liverpool in hot water as EFL launch investigation over fielding of ineligible player in the Carabao Cup,” in the Telegraph.
And “Liverpool could be ‘kicked out’ of the Carabao Cup” in the Mail
And so on and so fifth. But the fact is that given the way Liverpool have been treated in the past, they are most likely just to get a fine. And that fine will be meaningless within the context of the income of Liverpool. So in effect nothing will happen.
The issue surrounds Pedro Chirivella who did not have the necessary international clearance to feature in the match. He needed to get clearance to play after his return to England from a loan in Spain last season, but Liverpool didn’t get it. Liverpool say they made an application in good time, but the FA has not processed it, so it is not their fault.
But that’s not really the point, for Liverpool have history when it comes to getting in trouble, and they normally don’t get much more than a fine – if that. Indeed not only was the behaviour of their fans in Heysel Stadium the cause of the ban of all English clubs from Europe, irrespectie of whether those clubs had even played in Europe in the past, Liverpool FC only got a one year additional ban after everyone else had been allowed back. Whether simply one year more than everyone else was enough given the horror of the occasion of course each person can decide. The FA and League certainly thought so.
Now it must be admitted Liverpool did for some years carry a prominent article on Heysel admitting the role of the Liverpool supporters in the tragedy. I personally thought it was excellent and was pleased to see how much prominance it was given on the home page of their website.
But unfortunately that article has now either gone from their website or is very hard to find – I certainly couldn’t find it this week. The article on the Hillsborough Disaster is however still prominent; but perhaps it is just me that thinks the Heysel article should be just as clear.
Anyway since then Liverpool have been fined £100,000 and banned from signing academy players from English league clubs for two years (one year suspended) after being found guilty of tapping up a schoolboy from Stoke City. Another slap on the wrist for a rich club.
In that case Liverpool poached an 11-year-old schoolboy but then (the court ruled) went back on a previous agreement to pay his fees at a private school that they said the boy could attend. It was the boy’s parents pulled who complained to the Premier League about breach of contract and the fact that they had been left liable for thousands of pounds of school fees.
Liverpool were fined £100,000 in that case but what made matters worse was that the schoolboy in question could not sign for another club until Stoke received a compensation fee of £49,000, and there seems to have been a long delay in paying that, although I think that has now happened.
So this is just the latest in a series of varied events relating to Liverpool. And although there was no illegality involved we might also remember the case in which Arsenal made a bid for Luis Suárez – an affair was used extensively by anti-Arsenal commentators as an example of how ineptly the transfer process is handled at Arsenal.
It was back in November 2012 that the Daily Mirror ran the headline, “Red alert! Buy-out clause means Suarez can leave Liverpool for £40m.” In 2013 Arsenal offered £40,000,001 for the player. Liverpool made a lot of noise about how silly Arsenal were because there was no such clause.
What later emerged was that the owner of Liverpool FC lied, lied and lied again over the issue. The situation was exactly as Arsenal stated. There was a buy out clause and Mr Henry wrongly denied it, as a result of which all the newspapers and blogs bought into the story that Arsenal got it wrong.
The truth came to light when Mr Henry, the owner of the club made a speech at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference boasted that he lied to Arsenal and the media on the grounds that contracts in English football are meaningless.
That speech should give us quite an insight into the way Liverpool handled the issue of the schoolboy, and this most recent case of the unregistered player.
For what Mr Henry went on to say at the conference (which was widely reported in most parts of the world but hardly at all in the English media) “What we’ve found … is that contracts don’t seem to mean a lot in England – actually, in world football.”
Suárez countered with a statement that Liverpool had promised that he could leave if the club failed to qualify for the 2013-14 Champions League, which of course did happen. Suárez repeatedly stated in his interviews that Brendan Rodgers had assured him he could leave with the failure to get into the Champions League in 2013.
So, will Liverpool really get thrown out of the League Cup? In the light of their previous scrapes with the authorities, no I suspect not. They might get a fine which will be meaningless to them, but looking at their past record, no, nothing will happen. Arsenal will go to Anfield and play them in the League Cup.
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