The hidden problem within football is that problems remain hidden

By Tony Attwood

The thesis that underpins this website is simple: there are many football stories of interest that newspapers and broadcasters will not touch.   Plus many more that might be mentioned briefly but never in depth.  And because these stories vanish from the media, are trivialised or indeed never appear at all, they don’t really enter the public’s consciousness.

A prime example has been the sexual abuse of young boys.  The predators operated freely for years, and one main reason that they got away with what they did was that there was a general agreement in the media never to run the story.

Another example appears with the way refereeing operates – and we’ve highlighted this over and over.  Again the media won’t ever examine why refereeing in the PL is so different from everywhere else.  It is a non-story.

But there is another such issue: the way football clubs deal with young players in terms of training.  We have written before about the use-and-discard approach of clubs and their wild west youth policies.   Few media correspondents have wanted to comment much on the bringing of children from around Europe for trials in England, and then abandoning them.  Which then means it is not in the media, it can’t be true, can it?

However the youth problem is huge, it is real, and it is causing enormous problems to families up and down the country.   You might recall our earlier articles on  “The Unsavoury Face of Youth Transfers” – and “The tapping up of youth players, and still the FA won’t act.

Yet as with other issues, if the media refuse to touch the story, there is no story, And yet I think it is quite possible there is a wholesale problem with the way children are treated by Premier League and Championship clubs at the moment.

As ever there is no direct evidence that I can use to show this is the case, because Untold is a tiny operation without the resources of the media, but from what I have found out, it seems to me that a number of football clubs are treating their youth players appallingly. But no one mentions the issue, so the issue doesn’t exist.  

So let me move on to another issue that doesn’t exist.  In 2017 Liverpool were accused of ‘submitting a “falsified” document to the Premier League when trying to lure a 12-year-old schoolboy from Stoke City.’   The court revealed Liverpool tried to tap the boy up, and in that botched attempt, left the boy “unable to play academy football and his parents in thousands of pounds of debt”.

Worse, it then turned out that Liverpool were also accused of falsifying a document in the case meaning they fixed the evidence.  And then it emerged that Liverpool also had to withdraw from their bid to get a Southampton player, because they were attempting to tap him up as well.

In Parliament Damian Collins MP who ran the Culture, Media & Sport select committee. said he wanted to examine what he called this “appalling” case, saying that “no-one is standing up for the victim and the victim is the boy.”

As media consultant Jonathan Hartley is quoted as saying,  “… 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.”

Then when Southampton accused Liverpool of yet more tapping up in a similar case, Liverpool said that non-dating of documents (which was at the heart of the matter in this and the 12 year old’s case) 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!   Eventually Liverpool were banned signing schoolboys who had been registered with a rival academy during the previous 18 months.

Now in that case, I suspect, (but it is only a suspicion), that a lot of people in the media knew exactly what was going on, but as with issues concerning the efficacy of refereeing, Fifa’s legal battles, Fifa’s takeover of African football, etc etc the media decided it was a non-topic.

So back to today, and the suggestion is that young players are being over-trained like mad.  Many will get injuries which will stop them playing football in the future, but the clubs are really just allowing this to happen, so they can pick out the few who don’t get injured.   Those who are injured are just cast aside with nothing, left with no footballing career and a medical condition that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

But don’t look for it in the media – once again they won’t touch it.  And to be completely clear, I’m just relaying on reports that come to me.  I can’t prove a thing. 

However let me ask these questions:

What happens to young players who get injured during their early days with a professional club?  Who has access to their medical records?  Why are there so many confidentiality agreements surrounding young players?  Why is the media never interested in young talented players who suddenly vanish from the world of football?

I suppose, as they say in the trade, it’s because, “it’s a funny old game.”

2 Replies to “The hidden problem within football is that problems remain hidden”

  1. Tony

    The problem is, and has been for a long time now, that the media don’t report the news, they dictate the news.

    That is why they don’t report on the inconsistencies of our referees because basically it is they that dictate those inconsistencies.

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