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Agents in Football: Do They Have Less Power Now?

Football agents - love them or loathe them, they aren’t going anywhere.

Players want them in their corner to help manage their careers and look after their futures in terms of their contracts and management. They have become an incredibly important part of the game, and clubs would probably rather not have to deal with them if they did not have to. Fans might also feel the same way, even though they do not have anything to do with them.

Premier League clubs may not enjoy working with them because they cost them a princely sum. With most aware of how much clubs in England can generate and the revenues that they have, agents and clubs from other leagues have been able to command a top price for their players. Agents will often use this as a bargaining tool, as they will want a fee to make a move happen. Anyone who has played Football Manager might be aware of these fees.

According to data available, analysis from FreeBetOffers.org.uk shows agents were paid a total of £318.2 million by clubs in England’s top division over the course of January 2022 and February 2023. This was more than a £40 million increase on the year before, with £272.6 million being paid to agents. Manchester City and Chelsea were the biggest contributors to the total spend on agent fees, while Liverpool rounded off the top three.

There are some agents who have been dubbed ‘Super Agents’ because of the deals they are able to broker. Jorge Mendes, Pini Zhavi and the late Carmine ‘Mino’ Raiola (whose agency still runs following his passing by Rafaela Pimenta) are among those who are well-known in the field, as well as Jonathan Barrett. The latter of these was thought to have earned £121.2 million in commission, almost twice as much as Mendes’ £62.8 million, & Raiola’s £62.1 million earned.

Is the landscape starting to change?

Although there appears to be copious amounts of money in football and the gold pot in which it comes from does not appear to be running out, there does appear to be a downturn in the amount owners might be willing to put their hands into their pockets.

Financial fair play rules have become a big issue for many clubs, with some looking to do as much as they can not to breach the rules. There is a precedent for clubs to be penalised with points deductions if they do, which can have a drastic effect on their overall season. In addition, clubs do not appear to be splashing out in January transfer windows as much as they used to.

Everyone knows the winter window can elevate a player’s value drastically, as clubs will be desperate to keep hold of their best players and only ever receive top money midway through the season. In January 2024, less than £100 million was spent on transfers, with Crystal Palace being the biggest spenders at £30.5 million. In contrast, January 2023 saw over £700 million be spent, although Chelsea splashed the cash that winter on Enzo Fernandez (£106.8 million), Mykhailo Mudryk (£88.5 million), Noni Madueke (£29 million) and Malo Gusto (£26.3 million).

Will the summer show how agents are actually fairing?

Given the circumstances and scenarios are notably different in the winter as they are to the summer transfer window, it might be worth looking at how clubs decide to spend during the offseason.

Last summer, clubs in the Premier League spent £2.36 billion, which set a record. This could continue once again, and if it does, agents will undoubtedly be able to line their pockets once again. Of course, it could all depend on financial fair play, but it might just be a case of wait and see for many of England’s top clubs.

Published by Patrick Jane