Premier League agent-spend hits £174m after TV boom

David Conn
The Guardian
<span class="element-image__caption">Manchester United’s Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were two of the biggest Premier League signings last summer.</span> <span class="element-image__credit">Photograph: Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images</span>
Manchester United’s Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were two of the biggest Premier League signings last summer. Photograph: Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Premier League clubs paid a record £174m to agents during the year which included the summer 2016 and January 2017 transfer windows, the first since the start of the league’s current £8.3bn three-year TV deals. Figures released by the Football Association on Friday revealed that of the £174m total Manchester City paid the most to agents: £26.3m.

Chelsea were the second-highest payer of agents’ fees, spending £25m in the period, which covers 2 February 2016 to 31 January 2017. Manchester United were the third highest-paying club, racking up £19m to agents, followed by Liverpool, who paid £13.8m, and Arsenal, £10.2m. The clubs who paid the least were promoted at the end of the 2015-16 season from the Championship: Hull City, who spent £1.9m on agents, and Burnley, whose figure was £2.6m.

The total represents a 34% increase on the £130m Premier League clubs spent in agents’ fees in 2015, the most recent full year for which the figures were published, during the previous £5bn, 2013-16 TV deal. The figures for the period covering the January 2016 transfer window were published separately by the FA last year.

The FA explained that the £174m does not represent the total agents’ fees agreed on all the deals of the summer 2016 and January 2017 transfer windows.Most agents’ fees are paid in stages, so the figures comprise instalments on the current and previous deals.

The list of deals shows the Monaco-based Dutch agent Mino Raiola acted for the players in Manchester United’s three major signings last summer: for Paul Pogba in his £93m sale by Juventus; Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who moved to Old Trafford on a free transfer from Paris St-Germain; and Henrikh Mkhitaryan for whom United paid a £30m fee to Borussia Dortmund. Raiola was reported to have been paid a €20m fee on the Pogba deal alone but the United total, of £19m, does not necessarily include the full fees for the deals done last year and is likely to incorporate instalments from previous deals.

Championship clubs paid a total of £42.4m to agents during the period, although almost £16m of that is accounted for by two clubs relegated from the Premier League last season. Newcastle United spent £10.4m and Aston Villa £5.4m.

Although many supporters and grassroots football participants believe agents’ fees to be hugely excessive, the Premier League centrally considers them a matter for individual clubs and an integral feature of the modern transfer market and it declined to comment.

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