When it was revealed yesterday by Premier League clubs, the enormous fees they had paid to agents it caused quite a stir. In the period between October 2008 and September 2009, Premier League clubs spent just over £70m on agent’s fees with Man City obviously topping the list splashing out £13m to bring Emmanuel Adebayor, Joleon Lescott, Craig Bellamy, Carlos Tevez, Roque Santa Cruz, Gareth Barry, Nigel de Jong, Wayne Bridge, Kolo Toure and goalkeeper Shay Given to Eastlands whilst Chelsea came a close second spending £9m and Burnley spent the least at just £500,000.
Whilst some players choose to represent themselves others attach themselves to agents who not only negotiate new deals for their clients at their clubs but help engineer moves for them to other clubs.
The role of the agent was thrust into the limelight when Harry Kewell’s agent Bernie Mandic received £2m of the £5m Liverpool paid Leeds to take the Australian to Anfield. And with agents like Sky Andrews and Pini Zahavi constantly in the news, the importance of the football agent has risen.
Some agents won’t even let clubs speak to their clients unless they have received a fee, so it seems that they are a necessary evil in football.
The publishing of these figures have made people in the game look at the role of agents and Aston Villa boss Martin O’Neill who has previously had issues with Curtis Davies’ agents stated:
“Some might say they’re a necessary evil but I don’t think it’s as necessary as people make out, it’s a good thing that everybody’s publishing what they pay agents and you’d be pretty irritated with it.”
Whilst Ray Wilkins who has previously been in charge of QPR and Fulham stated,
“It’s sitting down and having a conversation. If you want a player to sign, he’ll end up signing.”
So if it is as simple as that then why do they exist? Mel Stein, the chairman of the Association of Football Agents claims,
“No one is holding a gun to anyone’s head to work with agents. These are commercial arrangements willingly entered into by two parties. Of course a club could do the deals themselves but they choose not to, and the reason is they would not do it as well. Agents perform a valuable role in the game.”
But it’s clear not many can agree with Stein’s stance on the situation and Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn seems fed up and has even suggested that if players want to employ agents then it should be them who pay the fees which seems quite a feasible suggestion.
Whatever your stance is on agents and their role in the game, it is undeniable that paying £13m in under a year to secure the services is excessive and although agents, like everyone else, are just making a living if it is possible for the task to be completed without their involvement then I don’t see why they should be paid so highly.