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Bates demands action on "baby farming"

Ken Bates is taking Manchester City to a tribunal over their controversial capture of two 14-year-olds, George Swann and Louis Hutton, from Leeds United, the latest in a series of such cases. •  Manchester United facing latest complaint over Fornasier Bates' action against mega-rich City comes just as the Eastlands side become the latest English club to come under scrutiny for their recruitment of a young player after FIFA confirmed they are investigating the capture of Jeremy Helan from Rennes. Leeds have revealed that the bitter row between themselves and City is scheduled to take place at a tribunal "within the next two weeks". Bates said that he wants to lead a major campaign against the practice of what he calls "baby farming", referring to smaller clubs having their prize kids signed up by Premier League teams. Bates told ESPN Soccernet: "Manchester City offered £30,000 for one player and £40,000 for the other. It's time the big clubs paid up, or even had points deducted to stop this practice of baby farming. "There is a growing swell of opinion that this is bad for English football and it has got to stop. FIFA and UEFA are making a stand, so too should the FA about what is happening on their own doorstep. We have had two promising 14 year olds signed by Manchester City with a pitiful amount of compensation being offered by a club that has spent £200m in the transfer market. "Both our 14-year-olds refused our offers on the same day, both signed for Manchester City on the same day and Manchester City's youth scout used to work at Elland Road." Leeds have informed me that the £30,000 and £40,000 is the initial down payment with scaled increases. But there was no holding Bates back when he added: "Manchester City complained about the disgraceful behaviour of Chelsea in the way they signed [Daniel] Sturridge, and we had to fight for compensation when Everton took one of our youngsters yet Everton complained about the way City signed Lescott. "They are all hypocrites. I am sure if there is enough of an outcry it will make the FA sit up and take notice. You can hardly expect the Premier League to do anything about it." City attracted the wrath of Bates, having also received a complaint from Rennes and FIFA concerning 17-year-old defender Helan who moved to England in February. FIFA confirmed that they have been asked to look into the transfer. "We can confirm that there is a case pending with FIFA's Player Status Department involving Jeremy Helan, Stade Rennais FC and Manchester City," read a statement from the governing body. In the wake of Chelsea's transfer ban, which prevents them from signing players for the next two transfer windows, the process by which English clubs recruit teenage talents from abroad is firmly in the spotlight. Manchester United have strenuously denied suggestions that they acted improperly in signing Paul Pogba from Le Havre over the summer. The Leeds chairman, who won a £5m compensation claim against Chelsea when they lured two 16-year-olds to Stamford Bridge three years ago, last week spoke out suggesting the kids were being treated like "horsemeat". But the big bombshell is that Bates and Leeds have initiated a potentially explosive compensation claim against Manchester City after taking Everton to a recent tribunal and winning compensation under similar circumstances. Everton were ordered to pay an initial £600,000 for 16-year-old Luke Garbutt. The defender, who has represented England at youth level, joined Everton from the Yorkshire side over the summer and a tribunal of the Professional Football Negotiating and Consultative Committee ordered the Premier League club to pay the fee, with the deal potentially rising to over £1.5m if further conditions are met. Aside from an initial payment of £600,000, Everton must also pay Leeds an extra £150,000 if the player makes five, 10, 20, 30 and 40 appearances for the club, as well as a payment of £200,000 if he makes a full international appearance. Bates added: "What happened here is the start. In the past we might have got £150,000, but now it was £600,000. We're heading in the right direction but there's a long way to go."

• Harry Harris has twice won the British Sports Journalist of the Year award. His book Down Memory Lane is now available.


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