English football's top teams disclosed that collectively they have paid the game's middlemen £70.6m over the last 11 months.
Manchester City paid a staggering £12.87m in fees to agents over the last two transfer windows, it emerged last night, the highest of any Premier League club.
The 20 Premier League clubs released the figures yesterday in a drive towards greater transparency but it was City's payments that showed the hidden costs of their efforts to break into the top four. Over the last two windows they have signed Gareth Barry, Carlos Tevez, Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Touré, Joleon Lescott, Roque Santa Cruz, Nigel De Jong, Craig Bellamy, Wayne Bridge and Shay Given, spending millions along the way in agents' fees.
It is also understood that the agents' fees for the Robinho deal from Real Madrid, which took place in the summer transfer window last summer was also included in City's £12.8m figure. Officially the figures are for the period from 1 October last year to 30 September but some fees, like that for Robinho, were paid later on in the year and therefore fall within this survey.
Privately, City admit that the sums are big but point out that this was "an unprecedented squad-building exercise that is unlikely to be repeated". The figures include fees paid to agents for renegotiating existing players contracts, for loans in and out the club and even free transfers – which generally command an agents' fee.
For the period concerned City either bought, sold or renegotiated contracts for 35 players. Stephen Ireland, Michael Johnson and Micah Richards all agreed new deals within that timeframe. The £12.8m also includes the fees that were paid to agents to get rid of the Brazilian midfielder Elano to Galatasaray.
In second place were Chelsea who have spent £9.56m despite their relative inactivity in the transfer market. They bought Yuri Zhirkov, from CSKA Moscow for about £18m, and Nemanja Matic in the summer transfer window and acquired Ross Turnbull on a free transfer. Daniel Sturridge joined from City for a compensation payment. In January only Ricardo Quaresma on loan from Internazionale and the youngster Gokhan Tore from Bayer Leverkusen joined.
Nevertheless, Chelsea spent the vast majority of their agents' fees on renegotiating contracts for existing players including Florent Malouda, Didier Drogba, John Obi Mikel, Ashley Cole, Michael Essien, Michael Mancienne, Salomon Kalou, Alex and John Terry, although it is not clear whether the captain used an agent. Frank Lampard's new deal was agreed in the summer of last year and it is likely some of the fee to his agent Steve Kutner would have been included in these figures.
The industry standard for agents is to be paid 5 per cent of a player's contract over the duration of that deal. For a player like Barry, earning around £120,000-a-week in a five-year contract (that's about £31m in total) will earn his agent about £1.5m in fees. Barry's agent is his friend and former fellow Brighton and Hove Albion trainee Michael Standing who has no other clients.
The next clubs after City and Chelsea in the list were Liverpool (£6.65m), Tottenham Hotspur (£6m), West Ham United (£5.52m) and Arsenal (£4.76m) but remarkably Manchester United come out as disproportionately low in the table in 15th place.
Incredibly only Burnley (the lowest with £468,398), Stoke City, Birmingham City, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Fulham paid less to agents than United. The club's chief executive David Gill does have a reputation as one of the best negotiators in the business and a check of United's deals and contract renegotiations over the last two windows gives a clue to their low costs.
They have signed only Zoran Tosic, Michael Owen, Gabriel Obertan and Antonio Valencia over the last two windows but they have signed up a lot of players to new deals including Edwin Van der Sar, Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Darren Fletcher and Rafael Da Silva. Wayne Rooney's expected new contract, when his agent Paul Stretford comes to the table in the new year, is unlikely to be quite so cheap in terms of agents' fees.
Wigan Athletic (£3.57m), Bolton Wanderers (£3.16m) and Hull City (£1.59m) all paid more than United. It reflects the difficulty of getting players to sign to the less fashionable non-London clubs where agents – especially those from overseas – expect to be well paid to "persuade" their clients to sign.
Sources at West Ham indicated the club's high fees were a result of up to 12 contract renegotiations, including new deals for senior players such as Carlton Cole and Scott Parker. Dean Ashton, the one-time England striker, now sadly contemplating an injury-enforced retirement, signed a five-year deal last summer and his agent's fees were paid within the timeframe of the report.
The 20 Premier League clubs voted to publish the fees because they felt the system needed greater transparency. Two years ago they voted that players should pay their agent's fees from their own pocket but that was found to be unworkable. It is understood that £70.6m figure includes clubs paying P11d "benefit in kind" taxes for players to cover work done for them by agents.
Additional reporting: Dominic O'Shea
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The 38-year-old Iranian-born, British-based businessman is a university dropout and frontman for Media Sports Investments, a firm with undisclosed backers, that made millions from "owning" Carlos Tevez and others. He's not a registered agent, although his sidekick, Nojan Bedroud, is.
The Israeli "super agent", 66, is a former journalist who has made a fortune estimated at £60m from brokering deals including Rio Ferdinand's £30m move to Manchester United from Leeds in 2002, the sale of Chelsea to Roman Abramovich in 2003 and the sale of Portsmouth recently to Ali al-Faraj.
Barnett's first sporting clients were not footballers but cricketers Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and then Brian Lara, who introduced him to a property developer, David Manasseh, in 1993. Barnett and Manasseh started the Stellar Group just as the Premier League went astral.
Formed his Sport Entertainment and Media Group (SEM) in 1984, having had a background in financial services and as an adviser to players including Charlie Nicholas. Forged close links with Arsenal especially while building a multi-sport agency that now works in rugby, golf and boxing too.
Former journeyman striker, 46, who played for Swindon, Reading and Birmingham among others, and whose KeySports Management represent more than 60 players including Theo Walcott and David James. Said in an interview this year: "Are agents corrupt? Not all – but the majority [are]."