Liverpool have admitted failings in their academy system after being subjected to a formal complaint by the parents of a teenager who had been on their books.
The Merseyside club launched an internal investigation after being accused of failing to offer adequate mental health support to the boy and poor communication over his prospects of being kept on before he left the club last year.
The parents of the boy — who cannot be named by The Athletic as he is still a minor, but has now joined another club — also had concerns over Liverpool’s handling of an injury suffered by their son while his future at the club hung in the balance.
In addition, they queried the appropriateness of a relationship between long-serving academy director Alex Inglethorpe and Yvie Ryan, one of the academy’s psychologists, which, they felt, risked a conflict of interest in her duty of care to their son.
The parents only became aware that their son was not being offered a re-registration at Liverpool when they received an automated email from the Premier League confirming the news in September 2022, despite a senior academy director having informed them he would have to “fall off a cliff” not to be kept on just a few months previously.
Liverpool’s internal investigation, summarised in a 15-page report which has been seen by The Athletic and which the club’s owners, Fenway Sports Group, are aware of, admitted that some of its processes were “inadequate”. Club secretary Danny Stanway also offered the parents an apology for the “shock” caused by receiving the automated email, insisting it did not reflect Liverpool’s final position regarding his re-registration.
The club concluded that the player’s injury – a back problem sustained in February 2022 – was not misdiagnosed but acknowledged delays were incurred in securing him treatment after a GP’s referral letter went missing.
Liverpool insist that the boy was given access to mental health and wellbeing services, while the report deemed the relationship between Inglethorpe and Ryan was not “relevant” as Inglethorpe was not specifically involved in deciding whether to retain the player.
In the wake of Boy A’s case, the club claim that new “best practice” measures to handle the release of players have now been implemented “in full”.
The player’s mother, who relayed her concerns over Liverpool’s conduct to the Premier League, told The Athletic that her son’s behaviour has been severely affected by the manner of his departure from the club, which she claims has never been adequately explained.
“This means it has been difficult for him to learn where he went wrong and move on,” she said. “I’d just like proper answers.”
A Liverpool spokesperson said: “While we would not comment on individual matters relating to a minor, Liverpool Football Club takes its responsibilities in the development, welfare and safeguarding of young players extremely seriously.
“In any instances in which potential learnings become apparent or concerns raised, it is standard for a review to be undertaken and our processes adapted accordingly, if so applicable, in keeping with this commitment.”
(Photo: Nick Taylor/Liverpool FC/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)