Talking Point

Back in 2008 the premier league agreed to publish fees paid to football agents by clubs. This is now published on 30th November each year.

In the past three years West ham have paid £13.2 million to football agents.

In our season in the Championship we may have finished 3rd in the league but we topped the agent fees we paid in the league by a mile! We outspent everyone else in the division with regards to agent fees paid out clocking up £4,314,270 on 69 deals. The closest club to us was Leicester who spent £1,812,371 on 78 deals. Barnsley by comparison spent the least with £124,888 outbound to agents.

In 2009/2010 West Ham spent £3,419,089.99 in agent fees

In 2008/2009 West Ham spent £5,527,548 in agent fees

Mark Curtis

In August last year David Sullivan told the Daily Mail he had no concerns about the continuing close links between manager Sam Allardyce and controversial agent Mark Curtis. Mark Curtis is agent for Sam Allardyce, Kevin Nolan, James Tomkins, Jack Collison, Matt Jarvis and Andy Carroll. Mark Curtis was warned as to his future conduct by the FA in 2008 over his Luton transfer dealings gained fame for the number of deals he did at Bolton while Sam was in charge.

Willie McKay

In the same interview Sullivan confirmed Willie McKay received more in agency fees than Mark Curtis in the summer of 2012. He revealed ‘Mark [Curtis] receives five per cent of the player’s wages over five years, which is a lot of money but the standard rate’. Willie McKay was investigated by Lord Stevens into allegations of bungs in football but was later cleared. He was also arrested in 2007 by City of London police alongside former West Ham manager Harry Redknapp & Peter Storrie but again he was never formally charged and the case was later dropped. Last year he was stopped driving while disqualified with a bag of cocaine in his car.

Barry Silkman

The third agent often involved with West Ham dealings is Barry Silkman who was involved in Demba Ba & Thomas Hitzlsperger arriving at West Ham. He was also instrumental in bringing Ravel Morrison to West Ham from Manchester. More recently he has been involved in the attempt to bring Carlton Cole back to West Ham. Barry Silkman was also named in Quest’s final report into alleged Premier League “bungs”, At the time he said he will not cooperate with the further inquiries being pursued by the Football Association’s compliance unit because he believed they were unreasonable.

In 2011 former agent Peter Harrison admitted to the Daily Mail he freely took advantage of the naivety of the then West Ham chairman Eggert Magnusson to pocket £900,000 in commission in the deal to sign Lucas Neill. He claimed that when he took Lucas Neill to West Ham instead of Liverpool he earned £900,000 and we put Neill on £72,000 a week. He said ‘He was going to Liverpool but West Ham wouldn’t take no for an answer. It was incredible. At the time I thought it was just business – I had bills to pay, office, telephone, travel – but when I look back on it now I’m embarrassed. Harrison was Andy Carroll’s former agent who fell out with Mark Curtis over Carroll’s £35M transfer to Liverpool.

Earlier this year just after the January transfer window ended, David Sullivan called for the FA to look into agents’ conduct and cap fees. He said “I can see it spilling over into violence in the future, unless there is legislation from the FA. I had an agent threaten me and one of our players with physical violence, because he thought he was being cut out of a deal.”

Sullivan claimed the financial demands by agents had got out of control adding: "We are talking millions of pounds here around a transfer and not enough deals to go around. There are too many agents and not enough transfers to feed them. Agents who would once demand £50,000 for their part in a transfer now want £500,000 to £1m to either bring a player or keep a player. It is quite outrageous and the FA should cap the amount paid to agents for their work”

I agree with David and think it is staggering how much we pay in agent fees and the power they appear to now have on the game. I would like to see much more transparency with individual transactions published each year. The latest figures will be published on 30th November and with the arrival of Joe Cole, Stewart Downing and Andy Carroll I am sure they will make interesting reading with regards to West Ham’s most recent dealings with these football agents.