Football: The agent: avoid the go-between: In the final part of our investigation into football finances and the conduct of transfers, Clive White sets out the views of two agents and two of the game's longest-serving players

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AGENTS up and down the country have been choking on their Havanas for the past couple of weeks over the way their ilk has been portrayed in All In The Game, ITV's timely new series of everyday football folk. 'If I could sue for misrepresentation I would,' says larger-than-life agent Eric Hall, who bears a striking resemblance to one of the leading characters.

Stranger still is that the series, which certainly does Mr Ten Percent no favours, is based on an idea by one of Hall's own, Jon Holmes, in collaboration with his star client, Gary Lineker. Not that Holmes, a member of the financial intermediaries association, Fimbra, would thank you for describing him as an agent.

Holmes, who has other superstars like David Gower and Jeremy Guscott on his books, said: 'People don't adequately differentiate between someone who is genuinely a player's adviser in all aspects, commercially as well as financially, and someone who's what I call a 'wholesaler of players', a mere go-between in transfer deals. There's a world of difference between the two.'

Given that only about 25 players in the country, on Holmes's estimation, warrant advice on commercial opportunities, the vast majority of players fall into the lap of the 'wholesaler'. 'If they're not acting financially for a player - and a lot of these people aren't qualified to do so - they will earn their money in any other way they can.'

Some will do anything to get a commission on transfer deals - even when it is not their deal. A fairly typical story was one recounted by Holmes where an agent told prospective buyers he represented the player and the selling club that he had good relations with the buyer when neither was the case. 'You often hear players saying they've got to go with a certain agent if they want to go to a particular club. That smacks to me of corruption.'

Holmes believes the PFA has placed itself in an invidious position by setting up its own agency. 'I can't see how they can act for the good of the players as a whole and individually at the same time. Where does a trade union lie under those circumstances?'

Hall, who described himself as an East End Jewish hassler, thinks the PFA is after his business. 'Players tell me they can never get hold of Gordon Taylor because he's always in meetings. I'm available 365 days a year, including Christmas Day. Only me and Father Christmas actually work and he finishes early anyway.'

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