On football player agents’ fee structures and incentives

Recently Premier League clubs in the UK have disclosed the amount of money they are spending on football player agents’ fees. These agents act as middle men between players and clubs, facilitating the transfer of players. Some of the more interesting information revealed in the disclosure includes:

  • Premier League clubs are paying almost £2 million a week to agents in commission;
  • The 20 English top flight clubs disclosed they spent £70.7 million on agents’ fees last season alone;
  • Manchester City were by far the biggest spenders, splashing out almost £13 million during dates covering last winter and the recently closed summer transfer window;
  • Chelsea paid out about £9.5 million – the second highest – with Liverpool third on £6.7m; and
  • Burnley parted with the least amount – less than £500,000.

Agents are typically paid a percentage of a player’s transfer fee. The nature of this payment structure means that agents have an incentive to encourage players to transfer regularly, as they are able to ‘clip the ticket’ each time.

Furthermore, agents have an incentive to encourage ‘high’ transfer fees, as they profit more from such moves. One common tactic from agents to try and push up the price of their players is to link them with big clubs (links which media appear all too happy to report on). Just recently, Spurs’ Russian striker Pavlyuchenko was linked with a move to North London rivals Arsenal, for example. Such ludicrous rumours are designed to wrangle more money off clubs genuinely interested in such a player, such as Zenit St Petersburg and Spartak Moscow.

Sounds like a good line of work if you can get it.