Football Wives, Agents, Corruption and Bungs

Agents roles in the game of football are coming under more scrutiny and quite rightly so. How would you possibly regulate this industry when it is part and parcel of the “fabric” of football, whereby fans, media and teams constantly speculate about who should and shouldn’t be playing for the team. Agents fill a niche in this market by connecting the dots between rumour, media, fans, managers, chairman and players.

The problem is that many agents are un-skilled, “del-boy” characters, who provide very little in the way of advice to players, feeding players, managers and clubs the information they want to hear, manipulating the system so that they receive their silver for their services.

Footballers egos are notoriously fragile, and for many young players it is easy to be overawed by the flash characters that continually prowl the halls of football clubs and the surrounding scene around a club. Although I would be hesitant to put the game of football in the same bracket as Footballers Wives it does not fall far short. There really are characters of this sort lurking around every corner and it is in the interests of everyone concerned to protect young players from these people.

Agents receive large sums of money for their services, although as mentioned in my previous post about old and new media in football and sport, their services are questionable in what is actually provided for players. A successful, wealthy young player needs a lot of solid advice from his advisors including

· Contract Advice
· Financial advice. Where to invest his money.
· Personal Guidance.
· Honest Advice on his career. Not lip service.
· Media Advice.
· Advice for when the final whistle blows on their Football Career.

Unfortunately in my opinion, most Agents simply are not equipped to provide this service. They have no training in what is a lucrative and extremely specialised form of work.

The Players Football Association offers a service to players, whereby they receive representation in contract negotiations, financial advice and post career advice. They do this for a modest fee and quite often in a more professional manner. However when I was a player it took me until the later stages of my career to understand the role the PFA plays in football and I am quite sure, most players these days are unaware of how much assistance they can receive from the PFA.

I am not against Agents, just the clueless ones. Clubs are always looking for players, players are looking for clubs and Agents do provide a handy link between the two.

For various reasons a player may want to leave a club and he needs someone to assist in finding a new team for him. This is no easy task for most footballers as they are focused on playing and usually unaware of any interest. Football Clubs are typically selfish in that they will not tell a player of another clubs interest, unless it is in the interest of the selling club. This is where an agent can come in handy.

Bungs and Corruption

It surprises me that Mike Newell’s allegations have caused such a stir in football as anyone in the game will freely acknowledge (off the record of course) that “bungs”, “back-handers” and “tapping players” up are not uncommon.

Put it this way : If you were Jose Mourinho and you wanted to sign Ashley Cole how would you do it? You have to talk to the player somehow to find out if he wanted to play for Chelsea, otherwise what’s the point of starting contract negotiations with Arsenal? So you use your network of resources to contact Ashley Cole and find out if he is interested. Is it ethical – Probably not. But it works and Mourinho got his man, got fined, but do you think he cares? £200,000 might be a lot of money for most people, but not for Abramovich and his billions. And this goes on, all the way down to the grassroots level in football in lesser and lesser degrees of un-ethical behaviour. But of course who cares what happens at crapbag united in the bargain basement leagues.

I hope that after all the turmoil and attention of the current Agents scandal that the regulations will get ever tighter, pushing the quick buck agent out of Football and forcing players advisors to improve the services they offer to their players.

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