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Bates blast: Youngsters traded like "horsemeat"

Former Chelsea chairman and current Leeds United supremo Ken Bates has launched a withering attack on Premier League clubs for recruitment policies that he says treats young players like "horsemeat". Bates was bought out of Chelsea by Roman Abramovich in 2003 and later entered into a furious row over the Blues' luring of two of Leeds' youngsters. He told the Daily Mail that the likes of Chelsea, banned from transfer dealing by FIFA over their signing of French youngster Gael Kakuta from Lens, and Manchester United, in dispute with Le Havre over their addition of Paul Pogba, are endemic of a culture where big clubs are poaching other clubs' players.

"The problem here is that the big clubs are stripping the small clubs of their youngsters,' he said. 'They are like Japanese fishing trawlers, just sweeping up everything in their nets. The big clubs treat the little clubs like ****. Right now some of these boys are just being traded like horsemeat."

Press reports in England suggest that the Kakuta case may well be the tip of the iceberg with the Guardian reporting that Chelsea are facing a legal threat over the signing of an 11-year-old, Jérémy Boga from junior French club ASPTT Marseille. It is also reported that Fiorentina are compiling a similar dossier to that which has so hampered Chelsea after confirming that they are going ahead with an official complaint to UEFA over United's signing of their Under-16 captain, Michele Fornasier. Reggina have lodged a similar complaint over the loss of Vincenzo Camilleri to Chelsea.

Bates believes Chelsea have finally got their comeuppance and wants similar action taken against Manchester City and Everton. Three years ago, Bates secured £5m for Tom Taiwo and Michael Woods, who he accused Chelsea of stealing from under Leeds' noses. Spurs were also forced to pay £1m for Danny Rose. He is now in dispute with Everton over the signing of Luke Garbutt and Manchester City over promising teenagers George Swann and Louis Hutton.

Bates said: "If you break the rules the chickens will come to roost. Big clubs who strip other clubs' youth policy should face stiff penalties. How can Manchester City pay £24 million for Joleon Lescott and take two of our 14-year-olds - and only offer us £70,000? They've spent £200m on new players and that's all they are offering.

"On Monday we have a tribunal for Luke Garbutt, who Everton nicked from us. I hope the ruling that has been handed down from FIFA on Chelsea will set the scene. It certainly sends a message to the Football League compensation tribunal about compensation. I'm not just talking about Leeds. Lots of smaller clubs than us have been stripped of their best kids and they should be adequately compensated."

Garbutt, 16, is captain of England's under-17 side, and was at Leeds United until the summer when he joined Everton.


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