Spending on agents rarely brings success – just ask Blackburn

Mismanaged Rovers paid £3.5m in fees last season and narrowly avoided second straight relegation

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The Independent Football

Money usually talks in football, but it can depend on who is getting it. The Football League have revealed the fees clubs committed to pay agents last season with the mis-management of Blackburn Rovers laid bare. The Venky-owned club narrowly avoided a second successive relegation despite investing £3.5m on agents’ fees, nearly twice as much any of the other 71 Football League clubs. Wolverhampton Wanderers did go down, despite spending £1.6m while Leeds United and Nottingham Forest also laid out £1m to no great effect.  However, Cardiff City (£1.8m) and Crystal Palace (£1.3m) went up, probably justifying their expenditure. The third promotion club, Hull City, were only £70,500 shy of also topping £1m.

One club refused to commit any money to agents’ fees, Blackpool, who are noted for their hardline approach to intermediaries. The club did, however, pay Owen Oyston, father of chairman Karl Oyston, £11m in directors’ payments via his company Zabaxe the previous season so they may not have been able to afford to pay agents as well.

Peterborough were the next lowest spenders, handing agents just £83,800. They were relegated along with Wolves and Bristol City (£467,115).

League One’s biggest spenders were Bournemouth with an eye-opening £688,666 in fees, the ninth highest in the Football League. They went up with Doncaster and Yeovil, who spent £113,165 between them. Coventry committed to spending more than a quarter of a million pounds and Swindon £128,326; both ended the season in dire financial trouble. The division’s over-achievers were Walsall who just missed out on the play-offs with an agent’s outlay of £3,000.

In League Two Rotherham United were the only club to pay more than £100,000 in fees. They were also promoted but Gillingham, who won the title, proved success could be achieved on a budget paying £7,500 in fees. By contrast Fleetwood and Chesterfield both committed to more than £90,000 and did not make the play-offs.

Besides Blackpool only six other clubs did not pay any agents’ fees: Crewe Alexandra and Hartlepool of League One; Accrington Stanley, AFC Wimbledon, Barnet and Morecambe of League Two. Hartlepool and Barnet were relegated.

In total, of the 3,746 player transactions (new signings, new contracts, loan deals and contract cancellations) 776 involved the use of an agent resulting in collective fees of £21,502,362. This was a slight decrease on the previous year despite more deals being done. Almost a third of clubs paid less than £25,000.

Click HERE or 'VIEW GALLERY' to see a full table of the Football League Agents' fees for 2012/13