Is £9m outlay a cause for concern at Liverpool?

It was announced yesterday that Liverpool had spent £9million in fees to agents over the last year, second only to Chelsea in the Premier League in the highest amount given to player’s representatives. At lot of this was down to the amount of dealings that Liverpool were involved with over the summer. The arrival of Roy Hodgson as manager led to a clear out of players, with agents being paid to find clubs for some of the Reds’ unwanted stars. Agent fees are involved in signing players, selling players, signing contracts and even when players are sent out on loan. Liverpool have certainly done a lot of all four over the last year.

IN: Maxi Rodriguez, Jonjo Shelvey, Milan Jovanovic, Joe Cole, Danny Wilson, Christian Poulsen, Brad Jones, Raul Meireles and Paul Konchesky.

OUT: Andrea Dossena, Andrei Voronin, Christopher Buchtmann, Yossi Benayoun, Alberto Riera, Krisztian Nemeth, Diego Cavalieri, Javier Mascherano, Alex Kacaniklic, Lauri Dalla Valle and Damien Plessis.

LOAN: Philipp Degen, Alberto Aquilani, Emiliano Insua and Nabil El-Zhar.

Each of these deals will have involved an agent down the line, but it is the scale of the use of agents that is worrying. While Manchester City slashed their agent fees by 54% down to £5.9milllion despite spending over £130million in the transfer market over the same period, Liverpool spent and sold dramatically less but spent £3.1million more. How is this possible? In Liverpool’s case, such a high amount can be put partly down to Joe Cole. It is rumoured that the England international was given £3m-5m signing on fee, with certainly a good portion of that going to his agent. There is certainly no real “free” transfers these days.

The amount could also be attributed, as I have mentioned, to the sheer volume of deals with Liverpool being involved in 20 permanent transfers over the past year. There is also the added complication of agents taken cuts when lucrative new contracts are signed such as in the case of Pepe Reina and Fernando Torres.

Nevertheless, it can be pretty certain that there has to be a conscious effort from any club’s board not to involve agents in transfers unless it is totally necessary. Tottenham spent nearly an identical amount on agents as Manchester City despite spending almost £110m less on players. Certainly John W Henry and the Fenway Sports Group will be focusing hard on reducing this number in the following months and years. To make a club profitable in the long term, £9m lost in in such a needless way will be unacceptable, and whoever is in charge in dealings with agents, whether it is Damien Comolli or the new Chief Executive, some business smarts will be needed to reduce this number.

In total, the Premier League lost £67million to agents in the last year. Many see it as money that will never be seen in the game again and for football club’s to run on a “rational commercial approach,” it is a number that should dramatically fall as some of England’s biggest clubs try to get in line with UEFA’s new Financial Fair Play rules.

Read more Liverpool blogs at the excellent Live4Liverpool website