In a statement that will undoubtedly be interpreted as subtle criticism of some of his teammates, Gary Neville has said that footballers should ‘ditch football agents’ and let the clubs or the players themselves keep the extra money.
Nev’s argument is sound – why should an agent demand such huge fees for simple negotiations, and why should clubs be forced to pay those sums?
Neville also said that:
“When we have a union as strong as we have, the PFA could help with the correct education of young players and make those players not so reliant on people who want to take money from you.”
These comments will undoubtedly be misinterpreted by people in favour of using agents, but the reality is that player education AND reducing the burden on clubs to pay exorbitant fees to agents is very necessary.
The real problem is that players don’t want to be responsible. They want to play football, they want to make money and they want to have the time of their lives (whatever time they get away from training that is). Some are family men, like Nolan, but others, like dear Rooney and Ferdinand, are clearly party boys and if you were to ask them to sit down and take more responsibility for their contractual negotiations they’d laugh at you.
Agents will stay, and so will agent fees because for the good players, a club has to pay the agent or a rival club will. For example, Ronaldo’s situation with Manchester United could come down to Barcelona willing to pay the agent 1m more than whatever Manchester United offers him – you would too if you had the money and the chance to sign Ronaldo at 21.
The solution is not merely education or cutting out the agents – it’s to pass legislation that forces players to pay agents directly, and also forces all transfer details to be public regardless of the club’s ownership status. Transparency will make things a lot easier and will help clubs save money as well.
But pass legislation to actually improve something? You’ve got to be kidding me…