Premier League Agents Fees 2008-2012

The Premier League started publishing fees paid by its clubs to agents from the 2008-09 season. This is the aggregated table since that time for all clubs who have been in the Premier League for any of those four seasons.

Agents Fees Oct2008-Sep2012

No surprise that Man City and Chelsea top the table, and Liverpool have been trying to spend their way back to the top increasingly desperately for a couple of decades now. At the bottom, I have to wonder which deal at Blackpool broke ranks, as they were admirably prudent.

As you can see, a total of £286m has gone into agents’ pockets during these four years. Looked at one way, you could say that it’s £286m that could have benefited fans, but hasn’t. But you have to ask whether that money would have stayed in the game anyway, or whether it would have just ended up with the players. I don’t think there’s any certainty. Even if all the clubs joined together and agreed that they would make no more payments to agents, that doesn’t change the overall amount they have (or are prepared) to spend, so it would go either to the players or to agents via the players. Unless agents are banned entirely they will always end up with some of the pie one way or another. However, it would be cleaner if payments direct to agents were banned. If players want to pay agents that’s their choice; I don’t see why clubs should do it.

The decision to publish figures was taken for more transparency, but the greatest transparency would surely be for clubs to make no payments to agents at all and publish exactly what they pay players – who can then do what they like with the money. That way everyone, including the fans, will know whether clubs are getting value.

This is primarily an Arsenal blog, so what of their payments to agents? At first sight it seems surprising that a club that often makes profits on transfers should be the fifth highest aggregate spender on agents’ fees, and 50 per cent higher than Manchester United. It seems even more surprising when you consider that agents for most of Arsenal’s players don’t even need to negotiate – Arsene Wenger awards them new contracts anyway!

Maybe I’m missing something here. Maybe there is a good reason for all the payments Arsenal make. I must admit I am having trouble seeing it.

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12 thoughts on “Premier League Agents Fees 2008-2012

  1. The by-now infamous Ashley Cole case should have cleared this up for you – agents demand and get fat cut on renewals of contracts by young players from the academy ranks. With Arsenal’s model of signing young players by the bushel, this adds up to heavy activity and heavy agents fees.

    Outgpings also incurr fees but It’s clearly become a sticking point of late. For example Nasri deal dragged out not over the issue of whether he was leaving but rather because of haggling over who would pay Nasri’s agent his 30 pieces of silver.

    I don’t think you have the issue much thought – were too eager looking for a cudgel to use…,,

  2. Good post. English pro football entered the modern world fairly late: it was pretty much feudal until ’60’s (was it?) when Johnny Haynes and George Eastham started the ball rolling. And then Bosmann, since when it’s akin to a ‘movie star’ system. With the amount of money sloshing around no wonder that (like showbiz) agents pull the strings. Would we want a return to the old ‘indenture’ system? The Big Clubs have the power if they cooperate – but they never have so far. Two pan-Europe leagues run by the Big Clubs might persuade them – make them a mountain of money! They would have a virtual monopoly on employment, they could bring in wage caps, ban agents. The price? A level playing field. Won’t happen until the two Spanish giants (like the Italian giants) lose their financial edge.

  3. The issue of agents fees in football is a mess. In other industries they normally get a flat rate fee paid by their client, hence them being known as the 10%ers.

    The problem with the current system is that when clubs pay the fee, they can offer an above the line amount to get the agents to encourage players to move (without necessarily having the players best interests in mind). It would be simple to legislate against this, but agents often have very close ties to those in power.

    There was a very good documentary on this last year, that showed just how dirty and bloated the whole business is.

    • A league-wide salary cap would also reduce both total salary outlay as well as agents fees. Basically the top players will still pay agents top fees to shop them around but the middle and lower level players will basically be fitting into more or less fixed salary bands – at which point a lawyer is as good as an agent and costs the player less in fees.

      • I’ve previously put forward the idea of a salary cap on another blog, and got a very positive response.

        Two things you have to understand though. It has to be European wide, obviously. It also can’t be like the old-fashioned salary cap, as that would be against European law. It might be possible however to have a total salary budget cap.

        The benefits of this would be massive; more competitive leagues. An aid to supressing ticket price increases. And ultimately more money trickling down to the lower leagues and grass roots football.

  4. Where I live, the ultra-rich players in ice hockey and the ultra-rich owners of Clubs are currently deadlocked about how much each porker will get at the trough…so we fans are left out in the cold. These same players have agents but unlike European football, they are severely restricted by the Leagues and the owners in their dealings.
    The other issue in Europe are the EU work and commercial rules which might prevent salary caps and the like from being implemented easily. As well, there is corruption at the FA, EUFA and FIFA levels with so much to lose should the money tree be shaken too strongly. Why do you think the governing bodies are so tolerant of this corruption, slimy double dealing and general underhandedness? It seems likely that they are benefiting from it in some fashion or an other. One way or the other, adding 286m sterling over 4 years, to the cost of operating a Club, is NOT doing the game any good, nor is it keeping desperately needed money and resources in the Football family, where it is most useful. If this money had been used for youth development, Club compensation for players injured on International duty, etc. it would lighten the financial burden on Clubs and improve the overall growth and development of Football. As it is, the greedy swine sucking up this money give less than a shit about any of the above.

    • This is idealistic. Look to the US sports leagues and see what they would be doing and why. Its not for your sake as a fan – at all.

      Salary caps would be put in place to maximize owner profits – not to limit ticket prices or fund lower league football. Basically it would be a kind of profit/revenue share agreemenrt with player unions, which is perfectly legal in EU. European lablor law has no problem with ths. In fact many union agreements include specified salary bands for which workers qualify by seniority, education etc. No problems there.

      But for God’s sake please get ridof these pollyanna-ish ideas that any of these people care about you as fans. They dont. The owners certainly dont and neither do the majority of these phony badge-kissing players. The game is fully in exploitation mode and fans are being milked – everywhere, If you are looking for the old ideals, you’ll need to stick to amateur football or lower league. With the exception of a very few countires like the German Bundesliga, the top level leagues have sold their soul – and there is no going back.

      • You’re just plain wrong mate. Pay banding and pay bargaining are fine, salary capping is illegal in the EU. The difference is that it’s okay for an employer to set it’s own pay limit and negotiate this with any involved union. Employers are not allowed band together to make an industry wide agreement (it’s essentially like price fixing rules).

        You are clearly very cynical. As far as I am aware the only owners that have actually been able to take money out of their club in the EPL is the glazers.

        Clubs do care about their fans, it’s in their self interest to do so.

      • Actually I’m not cynical at all personally. I think these football owners are immoral SOBs. On the other hand I am very clear eyed. Any fan at this point who does not understand that they are being milked by top league football is simply naive. The old community football club concept does not exist anymore, except as a maketing vehicle for suckering in money from fans.

        I love this one: “…Clubs do care about their fans, it’s in their self interest to do so….” Sure they du. I guess next you’ll tell us that British Gas, EDF, Scottish Power and all the energy companies “care” about their customers. Doesnt stop them from ripping you off though. And doesnt mean they dont do what is good for them and bad for you.

        If AFC cared about the fans, they’d do more to win. If the majority of these players cared about the club, they’d have done more to pay back not just the fans but Wenger who has stood behind them for years, covering for their mistakes and learning. But one after another, they have all stabbed him in the back for the sake of a few bucks more. That is football for you today. But it is ME you call cynical? Ok, dream on.

        Employers are not allowed to band together, no. But the TV contracts – which is where a huge chunk of the money comes from – are collective agreements and there is no legal barrier to the unions agreeing to a direct share of this money, which is then doled out in a tirered manner to players.

        A salary cap – or its equivalent – is not intended to help you in any way as a fan. It is intended to guarantee profits for the people who put up hundreds or millions in investments to buy the clubs – which is not you. Stop deluding yourself.

      • Comparing football clubs to energy companies is just plain fatuous. Sure, clubs have a monopoly of the support of their true fans – I can change my gas supplier but not the club that’s in my blood. However there is no essential need for me to spend money on my club, but if I don’t pay my gas bill I’ll freeze to death.

        I’m with you when it comes to player loyalty, but the club itself? You’re wrong. You might not like what’s been happening at the club, but the board has had the long term interests of the club driving there decisions.

        There were opportunities for shareholders to cash in with usamanov, who offered above the Market rate for shares, but he was staved off because they didn’t believe it was in our club’s longterm interest.

      • Usmamov is not a long-term owner – he is a raider looking to get in before the value rises even further. Hint: future TV and internet distribution deals.

        If you are a current owner and understand that – of course you would not sell to him. You’d look to hold your hand until the value rises.

        if you are one of the many clueless fans who believe in Santa Claus, then you either believe that the current ownership are saints and martyrs who are turning down money – or that they are bumbling oafs who refuse to sell to a man who will lavish his immense wealth on Arsenal for no reason whatsoever (as if he got rich by giving money away).

        It is neither. The current owners understand that information about future income flows is uncertain and that they can realize more from selling their shares when said income flows are quantified and certified.

        There is no essential need for you as an individual to spend your money on the club. There is a high likielihood of any one of many fans spending money on the club….when it is marketed to them….because it is part of one of the most popular leagues in the world. In plain English – its not about whether people from N1 want to go to the stadium on saturday which is a fairly mundane thing for you. Rather it is about whether people from all over the world want to turn on the telly, or buy shirts, or buy a trip to London too watch a game live, in order to touch something that is ASPIRATIONAL for them. So no, its not about you at all. And the club doesnt have to care. At some point the fans have to grasp this.

        That is the implication and the end-game when a club is floated on the stock market and it is trading hands for the better part of a billion pounds. This investment is the REAL driver for the move to implement a salary cap.

        If you want to talk about the Bundesliga, yes that’s another story. The German fans have control over their clubs and that means they influence the character of the clubs – and the relationship will be more reciprocal.

        But English fans dont own or control their clubs – they are mostly privatised and fully commercialised. In plain English, the clubs have been taken away for good. The clock will not be turned back. In effect, your relationship with the club is not too different from that of a paying customer riding the privatised railways all over the UK: you pay a pretty penny but really it’s just not about you or for you. And if you dont want to ride, the trains are full anyway, next customer please. (That was personally was one of my worst memories of living in the UK – what a travesty).

        No doubt, it will take a while for the penny to drop, I’m just telling it to you like it is.

  5. What an interesting debate: a piece on agents has widened into a discussion of the way European football might go. Funnily enough, my views line up pretty much with those of weedonald and ziontrain: the last people to be considered are the paying fans. Okay, I prefer Usmanov to Stanley – but only because I believe he is too rich to care tiuppence about making money out of Arsenal. Twelve billion, what is a couple of hundred more mill to him? Certainly, there’s corruption at the highest levels – Kuwait to host a WC, do me a favour! Platini’s hare-brained 2024 proposal for umpteen hosts – who cares about fans rushing around like blue-assed flies! The pompous little guy is a political animal – he’ll be long gone doing Blatter’s old job. For me the most fascinating aspect is this: the top Clubs of Europe are sitting on an absolute goldmine : two pan-Europe leagues. TV income alone would guarantee each club a minimum of £100m annually. And with all the best players in the world desperate to play, they could fix the rules to suit themselves, wage-caps and all. And the fans? We’ll pay the earth to turn up and watch.

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