Manchester City have agreed to pay about £800,000 in compensation to end their row with Leeds United over the signing of two teenagers.
The Coca-Cola League One club were unhappy that City had lured Louis Hutton and George Swann, both 14, from their Thorp Arch academy this summer.
Ken Bates, the Leeds chairman, wrote in a recent match-day programme that a deal had been agreed, but did not announce the sum. City, who were not been accused of breaking any regulations, have not made any announcement. But the compensation fee is important because it could be used as a benchmark by lower-league clubs in similar cases.
Leeds rejected City’s initial offer of £70,000 for the pair, citing that they were awarded an initial payment of £600,000, rising to £1.55 million, by a tribunal for the transfer to Everton of Luke Garbutt, a 16-year-old defender. In the wake of the ruling, Shaun Harvey, the Leeds chief executive, said that Premier League clubs should lose points if they are found to have poached players.
I posted about this a couple of weeks when the story about the pair, and at the time neither club released details of the agreed fee.
I can't vouch for the veracity of The Times article, as there are now sources or comments within the story and no confirmation from either ourselves or Leeds regarding any agreement. In addition, neither the MEN or Yorkshire Evening Post are carrying anything either which does beg the question as to where The Times sourced their information from.
As with all fees though that are paid for Academy players, the question of worth is an impossible one to call at such an early age. They could go on to get 100 international caps and the amount paid is next to nothing, or they could sink without trace and never play a game in which case the amount paid seems exorbitant.
What is clear is that the competition involved in both signing these players and for them to make the grade is getting tougher all the time and you do get the feeling that a large number of these players who make these sort of moves are ultimately going to fall by the wayside.