EPL clubs to clamp down on agent fees

LONDON • English Premier League chairmen yesterday pushed for a ban on clubs paying agents, with an investigation by The Times of London revealing that four out of every five transfer deals in the top flight last season involved the same agent being paid by player and club.

The measure to insist that only players should pay agents is among a raft of new rules that the league wants imposed with the aim of reducing the power of intermediaries.

Executives from the 20 top-flight clubs believe that "dual representation" has become the norm because if clubs are asked to pay part of an agent's fee, then the player has less to pay and also pays less tax.

It is understood that Britain's HM Revenue & Customs is looking at dual-representation arrangements and will be able to demand that clubs and agents provide evidence of what has been done for each side.

Clubs paid agents £211 million (S$377 million) last year, an increase of £37 million from the previous 12 months.

There were 541 player transactions involving top-flight clubs last season - transfers, loans or new contracts - and at least 426 of these, or 79 per cent, involved dual representation.

Every single one of English champions Manchester City's 52 transactions involved dual representation, as did almost all of those deals that involved Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United.

At least one deal involved "triple representation", where one agent acted for the player, the buying club and the selling club.

That situation also occurred in 2016 when United signed Paul Pogba for a then world-record fee of £89 million.

Mino Raiola represented the buying club, United, the selling club, Juventus, and Pogba. He was paid by all three parties, earning £41 million from the transfer.

Moves to ban payments to agents by clubs were agreed in principle in June and a meeting of league chairmen in London yesterday reinforced the desire for this.

Other measures to have been proposed include the need for agents' business arrangements to be more transparent and for agents' fees to be spread out across the length of a player's contract, rather than in a lump sum once the transaction is completed.

Clubs hope that this would stop agents trying to earn another payday by agitating for their players to move after a year or two into their contracts.

The proposals were drawn up after a lengthy review of agents' working practices by the league, which has now passed them on to the Football Association to try to have them accepted as part of the rules.

A spokesman for the country's football governing body revealed that the "FA is talking to both the Premier League and Fifa and that will determine our future direction of travel".

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2018, with the headline 'EPL clubs to clamp down on agent fees'. Print Edition | Subscribe