The FA’s current intermediary regulations state that a young player cannot sign with an agent until the year of his 16th birthday. Premier League clubs are pushing to make it easier to sign 14- and 15-year-old players.
Buying and selling 14- and 15-year-old players is a fact of modern football says the Independent. In practice, many 14- and 15-year-old players do work with agents, some of whom will pay their families off-the-books cash inducements.
Last year the Scottish Sunday newspaper, the Sunday Post, carried an article on unscrupulous agents who targeted children as young as 10 years old.
Children’s commissioner Tam Baillie said: “I would be concerned if there are children involved with an agent as the transaction of money would confirm the impression that young people are being commodified. I think this potentially leaves them open to being exploited by the clubs concerned as money, and not their best interests, becomes the main issue.”
Ex-footballer and Hibs academy coaching manager Eddie May has bemoaned the influence agents have on young players. “A big problem you find at academy and youth level is the agents,” he said. “A lot of agents are filling parents’ heads with a lot of nonsense. The number of kids getting agents at 13, 14, 15 years of age is frightening.”