League highlights big increase in agent fees

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The ongoing leakage of football's wealth to agents was highlighted again yesterday with the publication of the latest Football League agents' fees report, which showed a 41 per cent increase in payments to middle men. Spending on agents' fees between July and December 2006 by the 72 non-Premiership clubs totalled £6.2m, against £4.4m in the same period last season. That represents a £1.8m increase, or 41 per cent. The biggest spenders were Southampton, whose spending was £842,533, followed by Sunderland (£594,000), then Stoke (£560,000) and Birmingham (£519,950).

No other clubs spent more than £500,000, but the average spend in the Championship was still £229,000. Only one Championship club, Colchester, paid no money to agents. League One clubs paid a total of £505,305, although five paid nothing, while, in League Two, total payments were £220,065, but the majority (15 clubs) paid nothing.

The 20 Premiership clubs undoubtedly pay the lion's share of agents' fees, with single deals being worth up to £3m for brokering. That is the sum that Pini Zahavi negotiated for himself to move one of his clients, Yakubu, from Portsmouth to Middlesbrough in 2005. But the true extent of payments at the top level is unknown because there is little or no transparency about such matters.

The Premier League has always been unwilling to force transparency. An Independent investigation earlier this year estimated that agents take between £125m and £150m per year, directly and indirectly, from English football's four top divisions.

The Football League broke new ground in September 2003 by voting to introduce the publication of agents' fees. Yesterday's report is the sixth time the League has made the figures public. It showed that the 72 clubs engaged in 2,034 transactions (signings, contract updates, contract cancellations and loans) between 1 July last year and 31 December. Agents were paid in 497 of those transactions.

In addition to the 21 clubs who paid nothing, another 30 committed £5,000 or less to agents in the period.

The League's chairman, Lord Mawhinney, said: "The new agents' regulations have helped bring greater transparency and integrity to the transfer system. In making these changes, we fully understood the culture of paying agents was deeply embedded and would take time to reverse. These figures underline that, with clubs spending, on average, more than £30,000 per day."

Payments to middle men outside the Premiership


Jul-Dec 06/Jul-Dec 05

Southampton £842,533/£275,000

Sunderland £594,500/n/a

Stoke £560,000/£59,355

Birmingham £519,950/n/a

Crystal Palace £433,818/£100,000

Derby £408,300/£58,500

West Bromwich £370,518/n/a

Cardiff £335,000/£155,000

Coventry £216,250/£105,250

Hull £202,400/£22,000

QPR £187,340/£131,600

Wolves £126,333/£153,334

Southend £122,190/£2,750

Plymouth £110,000/£38,575

Sheffield Wed £85,000/£51,500

Leeds £64,000/£576,800

Preston £62,500/£80,300

Burnley £56,000/£163,910

Luton £50,000/£92,000

Leicester £46,117/£300,990

Norwich £6,850/£438,000

Barnsley £5,000/£17,500

Ipswich £5,000/£110,242

Colchester £0/£0

League One

Bournemouth £1,000/£5,000

Bradford City £40,000/£29,400

Brentford £5,000/£23,850

Brighton & HA £37,500/£255,000

Bristol City £127,980/£86,850

Carlisle Utd £5,500/£3,120

Chesterfield £6,500/£0

Doncaster £3,000/£56,000

Gillingham £15,400/£0

Leyton Orient £29,000/£17,500

Millwall £78,140/£15,000

Northampton £5,000/£5,000

Nottingham For £6,000/£124,950

Oldham £7,000/£35,470

Rotherham £36,520/£23,500

Scunthorpe £5,000/£0

Swansea £26,100/£24,150

Tranmere £20,000/£14,940

Yeovil £50,665/£53,000

Five clubs did not pay agents: Blackpool, Cheltenham, Crewe, Huddersfield, Port Vale

League Two

Boston Utd £5,000/0

Bristol Rovers £26,500/£29,000

Darlington £44,603/£7,500

Grimsby £21,000 £13,560

Macclesfield £1,000/£11,250

Milton Keynes £55,500/£46,250

Shrewsbury £23,600/£0

Swindon £23,613/£5,500

Torquay £19,250/£9,610

15 clubs did not pay agents: Accrington Stanley, Barnet, Bury, Chester, Hartlepool, Hereford, Lincoln, Mansfield, Notts County, Peterborough, Rochdale, Stockport, Walsall, Wrexham, Wycombe