West Ham’s David Gold says agents are ‘sucking tons of money’ out of football

Martha Kelner on 13 September 2018

The West Ham co-chairman David Gold has launched a stinging attack on football agents, declaring they are “sucking tons of money” out of the game. Gold’s outburst comes after Premier League executives called for a ban on clubs paying agents.

The 20 clubs collectively aired their frustration with so-called “dual representation”, whereby the agent is paid twice, once by the player and once by the club. They are understood to have the Football Association’s backing in abolishing the practice, which has led to agents being paid increasingly astronomical transfer fees.

Gold, who has been joint chairman at West Ham since 2010, said: “They are starting to run football. They are certainly sucking tons of money out of football. We are all trying to pay less, they are doing nothing for football. I can’t believe it is even a discussion. Other than agents, everybody else is against them.” Asked if they were disrupting the game, he added: “That goes with the territory. They are certainly doing that.”

The Premier League has also received backing for a number of other proposals it hopes will reduce the influence of agents. These include an exam, a check they have a working UK bank account and a requirement that they provide an annual financial statement to the league.

The increasing power of agents has led to them becoming among the most influential figures in football. Mino Raiola, who represents Paul Pogba, earned £41m from the £86m transfer of the midfielder from Juventus to Manchester United two years ago, taking money from both clubs. Jorge Mendes, whose clients include Cristiano Ronaldo and José Mourinho, is reportedly the wealthiest agent in football and much of his money comes from fees paid by clubs.

Football intermediaries collectively earned more than £220m in fees paid by clubs in England and Wales last year, including £211m from top-tier sides. Gold and other executives made a move towards abolishing completely the process of clubs paying agents at a Premier League meeting in London.

“The FA certainly is line with our feelings that something has to be done,” Gold said. “From the beginning it’s not been something that we want and they don’t want. Now it’s Fifa and Uefa we need to come into line and we are hoping they come up with something.”

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Until 2015 dual representation was illegal in England but that was reversed when Fifa deregulated the way agents operate. HM Revenue & Customs is also understood to be looking at the way dual representation could be used to circumnavigate tax laws.

Last season there were 541 player transactions involving Premier League clubs and at least 426 of these, 79%, involved dual representation, according to an investigation by the Times. Moreover, every single one of Manchester City’s 52 transactions involved dual representation, as did almost all of those deals that involved Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United.

Meanwhile it is understood the Premier League has made headway on finding a replacement for Richard Scudamore, who will leave his post as executive chairman on 14 December. A list of 35 has been whittled down to a shortlist of 10 prospective candidates to replace Scudamore after 20 years in charge.

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