Liverpool have refused to comment on reports that they paid a settlement of £1 million ($1.6m) to Premier League rivals Manchester City after City complained their scouting system had been hacked.
According to a report in The Times, a confidential payment was made in September 2013 after City are said to have employed counter-espionage specialists to see if their 'Scout7' system had been compromised.
The report mentioned former City scouts, who moved to Liverpool in 2012. City are said to alleged the trio had accessed their scouting database hundreds of times after making the switch to Merseyside.
The scouts reportedly involved are Dave Fallows and Julian Ward. Fallows is now the head of recruitment at Anfield and Ward the loan pathways and football partnerships manager.
A Liverpool club spokesman said: “Liverpool Football Club does not provide any comment on any allegations relating to legal agreements it may or may not have entered into with any other club, organisation or individual.”
No acceptance of liability or wrongdoing has been made on Liverpool’s part, while the allegations were not examined in court.
The alleged wrongdoing is reported to have taken place over an eight-month period during the 2012-13 Premier League season. Manchester United won the title that year, with City second and Liverpool finishing seventh.
The following year, City beat Liverpool to the title by two points, and the competitive rivalry between the clubs has grown in the years since. City beat Liverpool to the title by one point last season, while Liverpool won the Champions League.
City’s belief that their scouting database had been hacked was widely reported in the press at the time.
If such wrongdoing had been proven, it would have represented a serious breach of the Premier League’s rules which state: “Each club shall behave towards each other club and the League with the utmost good faith.”
City boss Pep Guardiola, who was manager of Bayern Munich at the time, was asked about the reports in the aftermath of his side’s 8-0 Premier League win over Watford on Saturday.
“What happened in Liverpool I don’t know, you have to ask them,” he replied. “I am not there, I don’t know. It was 2013, I was not there. I prefer not to do any comment and not use the internet the next time.
“Today, there are not secrets anymore. Look what happened in the big governments in the United States and Russia, and everywhere everyone knows it.
“No secrets anymore. You want to keep a secret? Don’t tell to a friend, on devices or the internet, mobile phone. Today anything can happen.”