£1.5 billion just to agents!
The incredible amount paid out in only six years ... so, as race to seal deals pushes up prices, who benefits most?
ANOTHER window of record spending in the Premier League will bring another record windfall in rake-offs for agents, who have taken a staggering £1.5billion from the English game alone over the past six years.
That jaw-dropping figure has been calculated by Sportsmail using official figures produced by the English Football Association, the Premier League and the Football League, and from conservative estimates of agent commissions on player contracts.
To put it into some perspective, the roughly 2,500 first-team footballers at the 92 clubs in England’s top four divisions have earned around £10bn since 2011. So the agents collectively — hundreds of them, with a few handfuls of big agencies and ‘super agents’ dominating — have earned 15 per cent of that just for moving those players around to get them the best contracts possible.
The £1.5bn breaks down into slightly more than £1bn in payments made to agents by clubs, as disclosed annually by football’s governing bodies (see panel), and slightly less than £500million in typical five per cent slices of player wages.
The most recently available official figures for agent payments from October 2015 to September 2016 showed the Premier League clubs alone spent £174m in that period, while the Football League’s 72 clubs spent £46m. Those sums are forecast to jump above £200m and to around £50m when next disclosed, taking in this summer’s activity.
Some agents have become famous in their own right — none more so than Jorge Mendes, agent to Jose Mourinho and Cristiano Ronaldo among others.
Mendes’ influence has been heavily felt at Wolverhampton Wanderers recently, with the Championship club spending vast sums in a gamble that leaves them at risk of financial meltdown if they do not win promotion to the Premier League this season.
Wolves have twice smashed the Championship transfer record in the past eight months — paying £12.8million to Benfica for Helder Costa in January, then laying out £15.8m to Porto for Ruben Neves last month. Both players are Mendes clients.
Costa is thought to have commanded £80,000 a week last season and Neves is likely to be earning similar. The most Wolves had ever paid out in the past was £42,000 a week to Roger Johnson in the Premier League.
At £7m, Johnson was their biggest purchase before this year.
For a club whose annual revenues are so modest — £5.4m in gate receipts, £3.4m in sponsorship and £3.4m in other commercial income — it is hard to see how they will avoid breaching Football League financial fair play rules.
Looking at the overall picture across English football, analysis of work by agents for October 2015 to September 2016 — when paid by clubs — highlights various other major agencies at work. The Wasserman group (56 transactions in the top two divisions in the period), Stellar Group (53) and Base Soccer (45) were busiest and are profiled on these pages.
The policing of agents was effectively deregulated in April 2015, when it no longer became necessary to pass an FA test to get a licence. Registered agent numbers in England soared from 550 to 1,500, as Base Soccer boss Leon Angel even noted in his firm’s financial accounts. ‘However this does not appear to have affected business,’ he writes.
It seems there remains plenty of money to go around.
RECORD: Wolves paid Porto £15.8m for Ruben Neves and (inset) agent Jorge Mendes