Whilst fans ‘eyes are still watering’, ‘pundits are ranting’ and ‘journalists are salivating’ at being given such a tasty morsel of a set of figures from the Premier League and Football League to ‘agent-bash’ with …………….. I needed to just give an independent agent (intermediary) perspective on what has been reported in the last couple of days.

Whilst I accept the figures stated are somewhat shocking to many, and to an extent I do agree with this perception ….. the fact cannot be escaped that the way these figures have been reported by a large proportion of the media is misleading and ‘skewed’.

Before I start, this is not an attempt to defend agents or intermediaries, and in regards to a large proportion of my peers I won’t even attempt to defend those who are perceived (by some) as the indefensible … as there are many highly qualified lawyers and barristers who may also find said task somewhat challenging.
What has to be understood is that the figures released by the Premier League and Football League are not as clear cut as they may seem to be (i.e. agents getting paid £130m in one annual by Premier League clubs). And that in a transfer (or deal) involving a footballer it is not uncommon for more than one agent to be involved. Please note however that from my own perspective I believe in most cases any transfer or deal should involve a maximum of 3 agents (and arguably just 1) i.e. :

  • One representing the player
  • (Possibly) One representing the selling club
  • (Possibly) One representing the buying club

* NOTE : the same agent/intermediary may represent both a club and player if permitted to do so, and if they also have the players consent.

** NOTE : it is not unheard of for multiple agents to represent the same player
Why ? …… well your guess is as good as mine, unless it is an international transfer.

So here are four very basic observations of the figures that were released:

POINT ONE – The figures include player’s payments to agents

Those figures released by the Premier League and Football League include payments made by the clubs to the agents on the players behalf, something a large proportion of the media have failed in their articles to highlight. So this in essence is a payment made by the player to their representative as a deduction from their salary meaning this is not a fee paid from club funds as such.

POINT TWO – Are club officials incapable ?

In the days of club Chief Executives, Directors of Football, Chief Scouts, Heads of Recruitment and also managers who take responsibility for transfer policy and negotiation ……. Why does the selling club need to employ the services of an agent to act for them, and if they do why are the club paying very respectable salaries to some senior club officials ?

This was further re-enforced by a club official who stated “We don’t need agents to act for us because we can deal club to club,” http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/34977902

Yes I accept that in some circumstances the buying club may deem themselves as requiring the player’s agent to help them manage the player’s welfare, and as such a fee may be levied. Or at the opposite end of the spectrum a club may need to get a player off their roster and employ an agent to help them sell a player. But where a club identifies the player they want to buy and have worked out how much they want (and can afford) to pay, is an agent necessary to facilitate this in most instances with the ‘expertise’ they surely have ‘in house’ at the club?

POINT THREE – Legacy Payment

There is an element of the figures released that may date back to agreements, transfers and deals concluded some time ago.
For example : if a player signed an 5 year contract on the 1st September 2010 and is still employed on the same contract it is viable that the figures released a few days ago (5 years later) include agents fees paid to the agent (whether or not he is still a registered intermediary/agent ……. But that’s another topic).

POINT FOUR – No party is obliged to use and/or pay an agent

No player or club has to employ the services of an agent/intermediary, they are within their rights to negotiate their own affairs and subsequently don’t have to pay a fee to anyone should they so wish.


In Summary

These are just 4 basic observations that put a slightly different twist on the figures that have been released and if we take that 50% of the fees reported were paid by players then it is the players who pay those fees as a deduction of their own salary and not the clubs.

Yes I can hear someone say now that the agents fees are increasing player salaries, and arguably they are. But surely it is up to the clubs to say ‘no’, and many of the clubs pay what they have budgeted for in terms of the transfer fee, the player salary and the agent’s fees.