Time to put a check on agents

Football League chairman Lord Brian Mawhinney pledged to bring in greater regulation of agents yesterday - while Norwich City fans wondered at the revelation that their club paid a staggering £438,000 to the 'middle men' in the first half of this season alone.

Football League chairman Lord Brian Mawhinney pledged to bring in greater regulation of agents yesterday - while Norwich City fans wondered at the revelation that their club paid a staggering £438,000 to the 'middle men' in the first half of this season alone.

The fourth report of clubs' spending on agents' fees showed that, in the three divisions of the Football League, only Leeds United spent more than the Canaries between July and December 2005.

The figures are published just as the role of agents hits the headlines following Luton manager Mike Newell's attack on them as the "scourge of the game" - claiming underhand payments to managers are commonplace.

City's outlay represents almost 10pc of the entire sum of £4.4m committed to agents by League clubs during the second half of 2005, compared to £5m for the same period in 2004.


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Norwich's spending covers 27 separate deals - 10 new registrations or transfers, four updated contracts, two cancelled contracts and 11 loans.

Leeds' total of £576,800 topped the list while Ipswich Town spent £110,242 on 24 deals.

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City chief executive Neil Doncaster said the figures illustrated the club's dedication to declaring exactly how much it pays to agents.

"I hope supporters realise that when Norwich City declares agents' payments it does so within the spirit of the rules," he said. "Every time we do a deal, whether that is a free transfer or when we sign a player on loan or on a permanent contract, agents' fees are payable.

"We declare all of these fees as we are bound to by the rules. The reality is the sort of players we have here will incur agents' fees, which we declare in full."

The number of transactions - 27 in six months - appears high but Doncaster said the figures were accurate.

Clubs committed to pay agents in 237 of the of the 1,765 player transactions that took place during the reporting period - a total of 13 per cent of deals - collectively committing the sum of £4,427,986.

Championship clubs accounted for 85 per cent (3.7m) of this total, with League One and League Two clubs accounting for 12 per cent (£549,000) and three per cent (£137,000), respectively.

A total of 21 clubs paid no money for the services of a licensed agent, only one of them in the Championship - Crewe Alexandra.

Football League chairman Lord Mawhinney said: "By putting these figures into the public arena, League clubs have provided the catalyst for a wider debate about the role of agents in football."

He also said that the publication of payments to agents could soon be followed by the outlawing of dual representation in deals, adding: "I'm looking to produce changes that good agents can support, which will help to isolate those that are not presently playing by the rules."

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