Leeds demand action against 'predators'

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The Independent Online

Leeds have called for possible points deductions for "predator clubs" who poach promising teenagers - on a day when Manchester City became the latest Premier League power to be embroiled in a row over the signing of a French teenager.

City insist they have acted "within the rules" over the signing of 17-year-old defender Jeremy Helan from Rennes, but FIFA have confirmed they are investigating a complaint by the French club.

Chelsea have been banned from making any new signings for two transfer windows after being found guilty of inducing Gael Kakuta to breach his contract with Lens - while Le Havre have made accusations about Manchester United's acquisition of another French teenager, Paul Pogba.

In recent years, Leeds have won compensation totalling several million pounds from Chelsea after losing three young players to the London club, and today have been told they will get £600,000 compensation from Everton for 16-year-old defender Luke Garbutt.

The teenager opted to sign his first professional contract with Everton in the summer - instead of Leeds, where he had spent eight years in their academy.

Leeds chief executive Shaun Harvey believes such compensation is inadequate, and has called on the game's authorities to hold a full review of the registration system.

Harvey said: "Compensation awards, we feel, are no longer a sufficient deterrent - and perhaps now is the time to start considering points deductions.

"We need to arrive at a system whereby in any transfer there is a willing buyer, willing seller and willing player.

"If we'd had an option we would have chosen to keep the player. We feel we were deprived of the opportunity to develop the player to his full potential.

"We now appeal to the football authorities to mount a combined review of the registration system in place domestically to provide further financial assurances for clubs who lose players to predator clubs."

In the case of Helan and Manchester City, the club insist they have done nothing wrong and that there was already a civil court dispute between the teenager and Rennes before he moved to Eastlands.

City said in a statement: "Manchester City is aware of the ongoing contractual dispute in the French Labour Courts between Jeremy Helan and Stade Rennais. The dispute between the player and the club pre-dates any interest from Manchester City.

"Manchester City obviously cannot comment on the case until the French judicial process has run its course; however, we are comfortable that we have acted within the rules throughout the process and in no way induced any breach of contract by Jeremy Helan."

United have also denied any wrongdoing over Pogba's signing and have threatened action against Le Havre if they make any more damaging allegations.

Meanwhile, Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon has said the signing of Kakuta was not "child trafficking".

Chelsea are appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, and Kenyon said there had been shock throughout the sport at the ban.

FIFA and UEFA both want to outlaw international transfers of players aged under 18, and the bodies' presidents Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini have respectively referred to the practice as being akin to "child slavery" and "child trafficking".

But Kenyon said: "It was something that happened two years ago that was in no way child-trafficking.

"I think you've also got to distinguish between the issues."

The Chelsea chief executive added that Kakuta, now 18 and viewed as France's most promising young player, had also been stunned by FIFA's verdict.

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