Due to the new requirements in the Football Association’s regulations on agents put in place this summer, the Premier League has released its first public report on the amount spent on club payments to agents, totalling £70,692,513 for 803 payments made to agents from 1st October 2008 to 30th September 2009.
No-one will be surprised by this astronomical figure, and I’ll give you one guess to figure out who spent the most in this period (hint: they play in Manchester and didn’t win the Premier League).
An interesting wrinkle is that the Premier League’s numbers don’t always match the club’s own figures. Hull City, for example, were listed by the Premier League at £1,599,188, but an official release from the club stated that “From 1st October 2008 to 30th September 2009, Hull City has actually paid £1,820,250.80 in agents fees. The total agents fees agreed and contracted in the year to 30th September 2009 was £4,392,250.”
Curiously, the numbers being reported are also changing: earlier today, many outlets (including the Guardian) were reporting West Ham United had spent £3,576,972, only for West Ham’s official site to say £5,527,548 had been dished out.
I’m not sure whether there’s anything other than lazy PR folk behind these discrepancies, but it doesn’t give me a 100% confidence in the accuracy of all the figures: the clubs report them themselves, after all.
But there is something in it for the clubs to release this information: a little more pressure on agents and players to sort out their own deals, as Sunderland Chairman Niall Quinn said in their release: “At an average of around £40,000 per deal, this figure is acceptable from our point of view, however we continue to hope that we can work towards a time when the payment of agents will become the responsibility of the individual player, not the football club.”
In general, this public accountability for the amount they spend on agents is a good step forward for openness on how much money in the game is leaking out to agents, following the lead set by the Football League lower in the pyramid — which since it introduced the same transparency five years ago, has seen the amount spent on agents decline.
Yet this welcome development comes just a couple of weeks after FIFA suggested they will give up attempting to require national associations to regulate football agents, a move somewhat gleefully described by one agent as a return to the “wild west”.
The Football Association’s attempts to regulate agents with disclosures such as this being made required has made it a leader in public disclosure on agents, but we may see less of this around the world, rather than more.
Here’s the Premier League list in full:
Aston Villa £1,708,374
Birmingham City £974,982
Blackburn Rovers £1,610,885
Bolton Wanderers £3,166,611
Hull City £1,599,188
Manchester City £12,874,283
Manchester United £1,517,393
Stoke City £716,042
Tottenham Hotspur £6,066,935
West Ham United £5,527,548
Wigan Athletic £3,576,972
Wolverhampton Wanderers £1,235,703