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In football,agents make a killing

The Global Transfer Market 2012,a comprehensive report published by FIFA’s Transfer Matching System (TMS),contains some staggering numbers

Written by Mihir Vasavda |
April 20, 2013 3:10:40 am

The Global Transfer Market 2012,a comprehensive report published by FIFA’s Transfer Matching System (TMS),contains some staggering numbers that provide a terrific insight into the billion-dollar industry.

Among all this,a couple of inter-linked figures stand out. There has been a sharp reduction in the amount clubs have spent on players. According to the report,there has been a 10 per cent reduction in the total value of international transfers last year: the 11,552 transfers that took place were valued at $2.53 billion,falling by close to $290 million.

Despite this,there has been a substantial growth in the fee that agents have received in facilitating these deals.

The intermediaries took $163 million as commission from the clubs for transfers across leagues,up by $33 million from last year’s figure. The study shows that English clubs spent the most on agents,paying them $59 million in international deals. Apart from this,agents also banked payments from players that FIFA’s system doesn’t record.

Over the last few years,there has been growing concern over the role of agents,with many suggesting that they’re the driving force behind the escalating transfer fees and wages commanded by players. These middlemen,who represent either the club or the player,have often been accused of luring players to join clubs who will pay bigger wages rather than teams which will provide them more playing time.

A case in point here is Shaun Wright-Phillips. His record of 11 goals in 37 games for Manchester City in 2004-05 saw him become the number one transfer target for clubs close to the top of the table. With many options to choose from,he joined Chelsea for a colossal £21 million,only to spend most of his three seasons for the club on the bench.

In 2007,former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville called for removal of agents from the game. FIFA,too,seem to endorse that opinion. The governing body has said that it is developing a system to help clubs deal directly with each other,and give information about players available to sign.

With the introduction of Financial Fair Play rules and clubs struggling to maintain a sustainable wage structure — a recent report suggested that some Premier League clubs spend over 90 per cent of their revenue on wages — it might just be the middlemen who take the first hit.

Mihir is a special correspondent based in Mumbai

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