Agents fees 2011/2012 exceed £77m; an Untold review

Written by Adam Brogden

Agents fees 2011/2012

Below we have the recently released fees paid by premier league clubs to football agents, I do not know if this includes exempt persons.

Arsenal £5,580,873
Aston Villa £2,730,539
Chelsea £6,490,382
Everton £3,092,891
Fulham £2,581,208
Liverpool £8,600,444
Manchester City £10,537,982
Manchester United £3,681,580
Newcastle United £3,485,503
Norwich City £1,248,725
Queens Park Rangers £6,818,688
Reading £2,167,833
Southampton £646,106
Stoke City £1,717,266
Sunderland £2,173,762
Swansea City £1,100,845
Tottenham Hotspur £6,595,905
West Bromwich Albion £1,341,301
West Ham United £4,436,992
Wigan Athletic £1,974,305
TOTAL £77,003,130


This table reflects monies paid to agents by clubs, not monies paid by players to agents but does include monies paid by clubs to agents on behalf of players.

It amazes me that this amount of money gets no media attention yet if a club spends a fraction of this £77million it is plastered all over the papers. Read what you want in to the figures of each club but please consider this first; the above money is leaving football. So from your season ticket, TV subscription, sponsorship deal, merchandise straight to the pocket of an agent/solicitor.

What this money is paid out for are services rendered in contract negotiation or renegotiation for incoming or outgoing players, loan contracts and first contracts. So all in all we can safely state that this money is going to the solicitors or agents that go in at contract level.

A football agent or exempt solicitor can represent both parties in a transfer/loan so could be getting paid twice for the same transfer or even three times if negotiating a permanent transfer between two clubs and the players contract. What the table above omits is any agreement between the player and his agent.

The only way to find out how much a player pays his agent is through the transfer matching system which requires this information, but this system only deals with international transfers.

Disclosure within the football industry is a major factor in fans’ distrust of the people involved in the sport.  We in England can count ourselves lucky as our football, although with its problems does not face the same issues as the continental or South American game. Third party player ownership is on the increase and soon I believe we will hear calls for a register or some form of disclosure as to who owns a player’s transfer rights not just a percentage logged on TMS.

Can you imagine how disgruntled some Arsenal fans would be if we hadsold Robin Van Persie this season only to find out we did not own his future transfer rights so got nothing of the £25million or so that Manchester United paid. That is the possible scenario at some clubs outside of France and England especially in Portugal.

You may even find out in the future that we were out-bid by Manchester United on Cristiano Ronaldo due to Gestifute wanting maximum profit from their interest in the players future transfer rights as Wenger stated before “You’ll have to ask Cristiano how close I was to signing him”.

The latest player that we had to buy off of a club and a third party was Andre Santos and I believe we have had many players recruited like this. Moving over to Germany we have clubs in the mould of Bayer Leverkusen who are owned by a parent corporation who can also indulge in TPPO (third party player ownership), and I believe they sponsor their own players personally as well?

So competition wise we are up against it, not only do we compete with Chelsea and Manchester city, we have to compete with the corporations and investment funds. The above table will not show you how much money Premier league clubs have spent on recruiting players from third parties that information is not available.

What you can be sure of, is the £77million above is just the tip of the monetary iceberg that agents and third party investment funds earn out of the game each year. Money from you and I straight to their pockets.  UEFA are considering a total ban on the registering third party owned or partly owned players from their competitions which I believe would hit football harder than FFPR.






14 Replies to “Agents fees 2011/2012 exceed £77m; an Untold review”

  1. No wonder I and thousands of others on basic state old age pensions cannot afford to go to football matches any more!

  2. Interesting article. The huge sums of money involved suggest that this part of the football “industry” is out of control, just like the player’s wages.

    There is no doubt these parasites earn far too much and some form of control or regulation is required.

    Adam, can you just clarify – in the transfer process is it the selling club or buying club who pays the player’s agent – your article suggested it could well be both. If both do pay can you illustrate why this is. Also, for clarification, if a player is bought for £10m, does the agent get a cut from this, or is he paid an additional fee by the buying club based on a percentage of the £10m. Thanks, this is an area I don’t fully understand and would like to know more about.

  3. @bjtgooner; This is an area I don’t fully understand and would like to know more about.

    You and me both, Im learning as I go mate. There are rules governing agents and conflicts of interest, I will look it up later for clarification, however I do know the rules changed within the last couple of years so an agent could represent both parties of a transfer (both clubs) so you would expect them both to have to pay?
    Please remember there are transfer contracts (between clubs)and player contracts two separate entities but both very notable and negotiable.
    Some countries (associations) have a fixed limit percentage wise that a agent can earn from a players contract but no limit exists for transfer contract negotiations to my knowledge? Clubs have to pay a one off fee where players can pay over the length of their contract even though a player can only sign with an agent for two years at a time.

    Licensed players’ agents have the right to:
    a) contact every player who is not, or is no longer, under an exclusive
    representation contract with another players’ agent;
    b) represent the interests of any player or club that requests him to
    negotiate or renegotiate contracts on his/its behalf;
    c) take care of the interests of any player who requests him to do so;
    d) take care of the interests of any club which requests him to do so.

  4. Adam, thanks for that response; agent fees and how they are earned is something we collectively will have to try to learn more about. I think all clubs are being ripped off.

    With regard to Arsenal; when we are trying to run a sustainable financial model, having to spend £5.5m on agent fees is a bit soul destroying and as you indicate in your article, it is money which leaves the club and disappears.

  5. bjtgooner, it seems to be a perpetual problem where agents can start out small, earn some decent money then purchase a players future transfer rights and then start to earn bigger money and so the cycle continues.
    There is a rule that states agents can only represent one party in any one transaction, but where does that leave an agent who represents a player but also owns his transfer rights. Also if all parties agree, an agent can represent all parties. The rules themselves seem confused.
    All in all I don’t think UEFA is the problem I think they are trying to do something about it. Its FIFA who are dragging their feet or intentionally set these rules in opposition.
    As for Arsenals agents fees £5.5 million on contract negotiations or re-negotiation, player acquisition and paying agents fees on behalf of players if you think about it, we paid less for Van Persie.
    You fancy helping me get me head around all this if I can forward you all that I have been reading?

  6. More to the point, why do these people exist?

    My wife works for a large company yet she doesn’t have an agent. She gets headhunted, which is exactly what happened.

    Why does a footballer need an agent, basically a middle man who exploits everyone?

    Why can’t a footballer act for himself? Every team has scouts who find players so what use are agents? Why aren’t these people redundant?

  7. The perfect evidence for the football legislators to get rid of these parasites once and for all.
    It is only since the wages of footballers have become so inflated that agents have been spawned. The players now have so much money that they can afford to employ people to act for them and in return receive a percentage of their earnings.
    There is absolutely no need for these leeches under present conditions of service in the professional game. They stir up dissatisfaction among dressing rooms and indeed clubs as a whole.
    Their raison d’etre is discontent and the sooner we get rid, the better.

  8. These agents are the equivalent of the job recruiters & matchers in many other industries. The difference is that the recruiters usually work with contracts for the job-posting companies, so the person being hired doesn’t really pay out of his/her own pocket. But it is money that goes out of the company, and that’s why the companies are wary to overspend. Not sure if there are (or how extensive are) the regulations though.

    The necessity of these third parties is somehow logical if we remember how many years the footballers actually spend in school. I remember from the whole the Dutch team in 1990 only Hans van Breukelen had a degree – in literature. I’d be glad to know that the situation improved:) Also, Jurgen Klinsmann was known as one of the very few that negotiated their contracts without assistance.

    Sometimes the agents even get into the team boards. An example is Ioan Becali (sometimes known as Giovanni, but that’s not his real name, since he is Romanian), that was elected in the board of Dinamo Bucharest, and actively transfered players out. Talk about conflict of interests. He and a handful of others control the destiny of the Romanian players in their quasi-totality.

    The agents know they can ask for these obscene amounts of money because they work with clubs that vehiculate obscene amounts of money. Although some of them seem to become financially conscious, many cluns still operate without a clear business model. Hence, it’s difficult to quantify the actual benefit/loss of working with agents. The FFP, if enforced, will have as a side impact an overall lowering the agent fees, and the polarization of the agents around clubs like Real Mad & Farca, that can throw money around and still operate within an almost decent basis. Third party ownership is something very serious though, that I haven’t seen getting much attention, and that seems like a potential loophole. Hope it will be addressed, but we all know how easy it is to talk about it. Those people will not go down without a fight.

  9. @Adam

    I am still in full time employment so I don’t have a lot of time, but I will certainly do what I can to help.

    I don’t want to publish my email address on UA – there are too many AAA twits posting here and I like to insult them from time to time, but I am very happy for Walter/Tony to privately send you the address.

  10. @Woody

    +1. I wish it were as simple as ignoring trolls like that. Oh well. Just don’t blame him because he’s dumb, it’s not his fault;)

  11. @Rupert, the reason agents exist is because they perform a function that is useful. They are the necessary evil of a commercial footballing world.
    Most footballers haven’t got the legal knowledge nor the intellectual capacity to judge a contract. Salary is just one part (one big I would admit but not everything). Contractual obligation, Insurance, image rights, etc are part of a contract.
    Also when a club wants to get rid of a player. In some case they inform the player and his agent try to find a contract, but if the player does not want to leave. The club pays somebody to find a club interested in their player.
    Regarding the scouting department, big clubs have big scout network. Smaller clubs do not have that huge infrastructure. they work on a more informal basis. they rely on the word of mouth and favours. In the end clubs repay those favours via agent’ payments.
    After some times, some agents develop some kind of relationship with some managers or club’s staff and chairman. Clubs get a special relationship with an agent who inform them of all the players who could potentially interest them. They then get paid a finder fee.
    Some agents are former players, so they are well introduced in the wold.

    If Fifa really wanted to root out corruption and dodgy agents they could. All they need is to do the following:
    + Setup a transparent system of clearing house with every contracts having to be registered with them.
    + Insist on realistic plublic release clause. They have already started with the Webster clause, but too often the values of the release clause are just ridiculous. Spanish clauses are set high as a way to negotiate. Nowadays only Russian oligarch can pay those fees. That does not guarantee that the player would want to stay. See Hulk.
    + Insist on players respecting their contract with non payment and huge fine for those that don’t.
    + Standardise a certain number of terms in contracts: Contractual obligation, image rights, insurance, authorised objectives (relegation, title, top 4, champion’s league qualification, …), salary drop for missed objectives, objectives, financial incentives, …
    + Organise transfer as blind auction.
    + Organise automatic payments into a pension pot per players. 5% of salary when they start. Then it increases every year to finish at nearly 40%.
    + Make mandatory the attendance to a personal finance training class.
    + Make mandatory Life coach training class.

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