Sheepshanks backs use of agents

DAVID Sheepshanks has jumped to the defence of football agents - and hinted Ipswich Town will be spending out more in fees in the very near future.Town paid £90,000 in agency fees during the period June to December, 2004 and Sheepshanks is happy to carry on paying.

By Derek Davis

DAVID Sheepshanks has jumped to the defence of football agents - and hinted Ipswich Town will be spending out more in fees in the very near future.

Town paid £90,000 in agency fees during the period June to December, 2004 and Sheepshanks is happy to carry on paying.

Ipswich are still in the hunt for a player to add to their promotion-chasing squad and have identified two targets, but would only sign one of them.

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The Blues chairman last night told the EADT: “Joe (Royle) has made it clear he would ideally like to strengthen the team further and we have one or two feelers out, so we may be paying another agent's fee soon, we will see.”

The two players Royle is tracking are English and so would not need to be signed in the transfer window.

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If they were to pursue their interest in Monaco midfielder Jimmy Juan, who returns to France today after impressing during a 10-day stint with the Blues, they would need to tie him up within the next fortnight.

Sheepshanks would have no hesitation in using an agent, not only to bring a player in but, possibly, move one off the wage bill, although £12,000-a-week Pablo Counago has consistently told the EADT since last summer that he is keen to stay and help Town's promotion push.

Sheepshanks said: “I don't envisage any significant out-goings. Pablo wants to stay and see out his contract and he has been professional about that. If something happened that suited him before the end of the window he may go but, at the moment, nothing is happening.

“I don't expect anyone else to go. Antonio Murray and one or two fringe players perhaps, but that is all.”

In a move that will probably put him at odds with many other chairmen, Sheepshanks has spoken out in favour of agents.

He said: “We have to be very careful about jumping on the bandwagon of castigating all agents. Many of them do a good job for their clients and a necessary one.

“In the acting or music professions you wouldn't dream of not having an agent - nor should footballers be denied that right.

“The problem surrounds the unscrupulous minority, the few excessive settlements and the scope that the current lack of control provides for suspicions of fraud and insider-dealing.”

Sheepshanks also believes a good agent can influence a player into joining the right club for the right reasons.

He said: “Agents in the modern game have a say in where a player may go. If you are the only bidder, then it is a no-brainer, but, if there are more than one club involved, then the agent may have a lot of sway over which club the player ultimately chooses and supporters should recognise that.”

Ipswich backed League chairman Sir Brian Mawhinney's decision to publish the agency payments, with Leeds United shelling out £1.6m of the £4.4m committed by Championship clubs during the latest six month period, with £5.025m spent by all 72 clubs. Most of Leeds' outlay was in trying to offload players from their wage bill, with agents making healthy profits for themselves in the process.

Colchester United, once again, did not spend any money on using agents, while Crewe were the only Championship club not to do so.

Sheepshanks said: “The Football League has led the way in publishing figures in an effort to name and shame those paying the highest amounts, thereby serving as some sort of limiting factor.

“It certainly helps, and at least provides some transparency and something I would like to see the Premier League replicate.

“Alone, this is no remedy but it does bring into focus some excessive amounts still being paid by clubs - money that goes out of the game.”

Sheepshanks is a strong advocate of players, who want the services of an agent, footing the bill instead of clubs.

He said: “Usually agents are involved in new signings and they are always involved if you are trying to move players on before the end of the contract.

“There are many transactions where agents' fees are not made, or where the player pays the agent, not the club.

“That is what I, personally, prefer to see happen and continue to lobby for, but I'm in a minority among league clubs where, at the moment, the majority of clubs prefer to see the current system operate.”

The £90,000 paid by Town in the six-month period represents one per cent of the club's expenditure on players.

Sheepshanks added: “Part of the fees relate to Martijn Reuser moving on, while the rest are towards three new signings and contract renewals.”

The players who have arrived in the period covered by the latest figures are Darren Currie, who cost £250,000 from Brighton, and Kevin Horlock from West Ham, while Danny Karbassiyoon and Tony Dinning have been loan signings.

Jason De Vos' move from Wigan was partially covered in the last set of figures released, and made up most of the £37,125 paid out between last January to June.

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