One of the biggest winners from Wayne Rooney's new contract is Paul Stretford, the vacuum cleaner salesman turned agent who could make an estimated £3m solely for his role in getting Rooney – who, until a few months ago, saw himself as a lifelong Red – to agree an extended deal.
Nice work if you can get it: that is the most obvious, glib conclusion of the role of a man who was central to the extraordinary dramas which unfolded over the past five days. It was Stretford, after all, who informed United's chief executive David Gill in August that Rooney "wanted away", and Stretford who reiterated it this week, and Stretford who drafted and released the bombshell statement – just two hours before an important Champions League game – that implied Rooney had been denied "assurances about the continued ability of the club to attract the top players in the world".
Sir Alex Ferguson – unless he is an Oscar-standard actor – was genuinely shocked as these events unravelled, and United were forced even to bring co-owner Joel Glazer to the phone to beseech Rooney to stay. And amid this smokescreen of fretting, Stretford was key as Rooney, after all, signed on the dotted line until 2015.
When Stretford was the guiding hand who led Rooney from Everton to United in 2004, it was reported that he was guaranteed £1m in commission, which rose to £1.5m as the striker stayed five years.
Given Rooney's reported £90,000-per-week deal until yesterday, and a new five-year deal quite possibly worth twice that, or £46.8m over its full term, or £9.36m per year, Stretford's take will probably be in the region of £3m, or somewhere just over six per cent. This is by no means extravagant within the business.
Stretford has argued, cogently over the years, that he is much more than a middle man on the take. In an interview with The Independent 10 years ago, when he was a rising star among international agents, he talked with some conviction about the ability to make a difference to a player's life, and not just their (and his) bank balance. Kevin Campbell's move from Trabzonspor to Everton was his most satisfying up until that date, he said.
"We took a man out of an awful set of circumstances," he explained at the time. "Kevin's pregnant wife was back home. He had been racially abused and wasn't getting paid his wages. I mobilised lawyers, politicians and the British Consul. To sit between Kevin and the Everton secretary, Michael Dunford, on a flight home was a great feeling."
In the same interview he also spoke fondly of then-client Andy Cole as "someone I will always be close to". And yet Cole wrote in his column in The National newspaper in Abu Dhabi yesterday how Stretford had "made me part of the family", but only while he, Cole, was making Stretford money. "I wasn't the only player who stopped hearing from him when I'd served my purpose," Cole claims.
Stretford's controversial relationship with Rooney started in 2002, when the 17-year-old became a client. Stretford was accused of poaching Rooney – a charge that ended up in a court case, where Stretford accused others of blackmail.
That case collapsed. Stretford won another case after taking Rooney away from the Proactive firm he had started but was charged by the FA with misconduct and banned for 18 months from the game, a sentence that was then halved on appeal.
He returned to active "agenting" for Rooney earlier this year, just in time to sort out his next contract.Reuse content