The era of one-club-men, such as Ryan Giggs and Ledley King, may be nearing an end, due to new framework implemented by FIFA last month. Richard Barrett discusses.
On April 1st of this year, FIFA’s deregulation of football agents came into existence, dramatically changing the transfer landscape and bringing the curtain down on the age of the agent. Intermediaries would now exist in their place, and the riches on offer for transfer-hungry money men shortened dramatically overnight.
FIFA estimated that just 25-30% of international transfers were being conducted by licensed agents and this was a major issue. It was time football’s governing body acted to combat this discrepancy.
In 2009, Sepp Blatter and his band of merry men set out to reform football. The existing agent system was detrimental to the future of their beloved game and it was time for a revolution. The key needs were as follows:
– Address the current shortfalls in transfer dealings.
– Make the process more transparent.
– Prevent deals being sealed by unlicensed agents.
– Improve enforcement at national level.
Agents Making Millions
In 2013/14, the amount of cash paid to agents in the Premier League was a whopping £115 million. When one considers that the total spend on transfers that season was £760 million, it’s clear that agents were stuffing themselves to the gills with cash, and doing so for more than the princely sum of 10%.
Of the £115 million total, Chelsea FC accounted for roughly £17 million. To put this into perspective, that £17 million would have been enough to buy Pepe (£15 million), or one Xabi Alonso (£8 million) and one Bacary Sagna (£7 million) and still have a couple of million left over.
The new system, launched at the start of April, was not implemented worldwide by FIFA, but provided as a framework that national associations would be expected to adhere to. The main points were as follows:
– FIFA will no longer regulate access to becoming an agent. It would instead provide recommendations and framework for tighter control and supervision.
– No more agents. Now known as intermediaries.
– Transparency. Full disclosure of remuneration made to intermediaries. However, individual transfers and breakdown of ‘who-got-what’ is not needed.
– Payment of Intermediary Fees. Identifying who is responsible for paying intermediaries and the % they take from each deal.
– Conflicts of Interest. Full disclosure.
– Protection of Minors. Non-payment of commission when a player is a minor (u-18).
– No longer need to pass an exam to become an agent.
– There would be a cap of 3% commission on all deals, instead of 5-10%.
– Intermediaries would need to register with their relative Football Associations. Must be of ‘impeccable character’.
Death Of The One-Club-Men
The framework has been met with massive resistance from the professionals formerly known as ‘agents’. They believe the system will be taken advantage of due to the lack of red tape when becoming an agent. In essence, if you have a clean criminal record and £500, you can now become a football
While the intentions of FIFA were ones of goodwill, this new framework will substantially impact on the amount of cash that
agents intermediaries earn and undoubtedly have massive implications for the future of football.
If agents can make just 3% from a single transfer deal, as opposed to the 10% on offer previously, then FIFA may have unintentionally put an end to the era of one-club-men.
Instead of encouraging their players to stay with their club of choice, it’s likely intermediaries will push for more money, more deals, and of course, more commission. Previously, one bumper deal with a 10% bonus would have been enough to satisfy the often insatiable thirst of agents, but sadly this will no longer be the case.
To paraphrase Mark Twain; money is not the root of all evil, the lack of it is. The gravy train has come shuddering to an abrupt halt and intermediaries are scrambling to compensate for their losses.
The implementation of FIFA’s framework will presumably coincide with an increase in transfer activity, and that makes this writer a little sad. Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs spent his entire career at one club, but unfortunately it is highly likely that the young Premier League talents of the future will not.
RIP to the one-club-men of yesteryear, we football purists salute you..