News emerged yesterday from the FA that Sunderland spent over £4 million on agent’s fees between February 2017 and the end of January 2018. That sum was the second highest in the Championship after Hull City, who spent just over £5.5 million during the same period.
The news was made all the more painful considering the club spent just over £1 million on acquisitions in the same time-frame, despite selling over £30 million worth of talent last summer.
But why did the club spend so much on agent’s fees instead of transfer fees? Was it avoidable, or simply part and parcel of the manner in which the club has attempted to operate?
#safc spent £4.3m on agent fees from Feb 1, 2017 to Jan 31, 2018. That's more than they spent on players. Of the Championship clubs, only Aston Villa spent more than Sunderland on agent fees in that period.— David Coverdale (@dpcoverdale) April 3, 2018
Despite the fact the club could very possibly have handed money to a variety of football agents, sources close to the club suggest these figures aren’t necessarily anything out of the ordinary.
Sunderland’s decision to go for bargain signings, loans and free transfers has ultimately increased the sums paid to those players’ agents. And, whilst we may have saved cash spent on acquiring the players in the first place, the makeweight on those deals comes in the form of inflated agent fees.
Sunderland have taken a short-term approach to their transfer dealings in an attempt at saving cash on player acquisitions, and one would imagine that has been done in in an attempt at reducing running costs and debts. Has this attempt at reducing our expenditure been worth the hassle, though? I’d argue no when you consider our league position as well as the money wasted on the acquired players’ representatives.
Furthermore, it’s also worth noting that increased agent fees are also used in order to subsidise international pay according to sources located in the world of football financials; essentially, Sunderland have traded longer-term costs for short-term losses.
I just have Martin Bain uttering the word "efficient" when describing the sale of Vito Mannone for two million quid ringing around my head this morning.— Roker Report (@RokerReport) April 3, 2018
But, despite this being somewhat normal according to the experts, we still shouldn’t be happy that some of this expenditure will have come from players leaving the club and contracts being cancelled. Agents are benefitting from players wanting to leave the club, and Sunderland shouldn’t be allowing that. We are losing money and personnel, a recipe for disaster.
Furthermore, money going to agents of players on big money, going to big clubs, who fled the sinking ship as fast as they could jump overboard really hurts. On one hand it’s understandable why players want to leave the club in order to play at a high level, but the manner in which the club is allowing them to dictate terms is incredibly frustrating and highlights the awful position in which the club’s upper management has led us into.
Ultimately, whilst the money spent on agent’s fees is irritating, it shouldn’t come as any surprise to fans that the club have found another way to make a mess of things. These fees could well have been avoided had Short invested sensibly in equipping the club with a solid core of players. Instead, we are being held to ransom by greedy representatives who are stripping the club of vital resouces.