'Unbelievable' agents are undermining football, says Ferguson

 

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The Independent Online

Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed in a discussion of Wayne Rooney's contract dispute the extraordinary lengths to which some agents will go to extract maximum personal benefit from a deal, claiming that on one occasion Manchester United were asked to buy a "block of flats" in return for a player joining the club.

Another agent wanted money for every goal the player concerned scored for United, Ferguson told Colm Murray, a broadcaster for Ireland's RTE network. "This is what you're dealing with and it is unbelievable," Ferguson said. "They have an imagination beyond belief. I told the board [in the case of the cash-per-goal request], 'Can you please remind them that's why we are buying the player in the first place: because he is a goalscorer'."

Of Rooney, Ferguson said: "I think he took bad advice and when he saw the impact of the fans and my response he realised – and I'm sure plenty of people told him - that he was making a big mistake. The minute a player becomes more important than the manager our club is finished; we'll never be the same again. I get annoyed when managers phone me and say such and such a player – and I am talking about players who couldn't lace my reserve team players' boots – is asking for £1m a year. That's when it becomes disappointing. Some agents work a miracle by getting these terms for players who are not stars.

"At United I think most of my first-team players deserve what they're getting. They're playing in front of 75,000 people every week. They're achieving, successful, good footballers, honest professionals. They produce on the field, they bring people into the grounds, and they deserve it. But there are some players at other clubs who get paid enormous amounts of money and I don't know why. We have to deal with all these agents nowadays. I don't deal with them directly but [chief executive] David Gill has to, and it's a hard job."

In a wide-ranging interview Ferguson, a keen student of Irish history, with a close connection to the country through his wife Cathy, also declared his fascination with the Irish revolutionary leader Michael Collins. Ferguson depicted Collins as a romantic figure, who expertly built up a rebel network to fight the Black and Tans.

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