U's in a league of their own

COLCHESTER United have been confirmed as the only Championship club not to have paid any money to football agents over the last six months.And it was also revealed that Ipswich Town only spent £5,000 in agents' fees, leaving them in joint 22nd spot with newly-promoted Barnsley.

By Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United have been confirmed as the only Championship club not to have paid any money to football agents over the last six months.

And it was also revealed that Ipswich Town only spent £5,000 in agents' fees, leaving them in joint 22nd spot with newly-promoted Barnsley.

By contrast, 10 of the 24 Championship clubs committed more than £120,000 to agents' fees during the second half of last year, from July 31 to December 31.


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Former Ipswich and Colchester manager George Burley led the way. His Southampton club, bank-rolled by chairman Robert Lowe, splashed out £842,533 in registering 31 new players during that period.

Sunderland, Stoke and Birmingham were the other Championship outfits to spend more than £500,000. Southend, the other club to be promoted along with Colchester and Barnsley last term, paid a sizeable £122,190 to agents, just ahead of Norwich (£86,850).

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Across the three divisions in the Football League, there were 21 clubs who did not pay anything to agents.

Five of these were in League One - Blackpool, Cheltenham, Crewe, Huddersfield and Port Vale - with the other 15 in League Two.

U's Chief Executive Marie Partner explained the club's approach to dealing with agents last night, revealing that the U's had only ever paid money to agents during six months of its history.

“Some of the clubs who still pay a lot to agents tend to be the former Premiership clubs who haven't got out of that habit,” said Mrs Partner.

“Our chairman, Peter Heard, has always avoided paying money to agents out of principle. We prefer to sit down one-to-one with the player. Why should we then pay extra money to agents?

“We know our limitations at Colchester. We have our budget, and that doesn't include paying money to agents. In fact, most clubs are tending to deal with agents less and less.

“We have never had a problem with an agent representing a player, but it's then up to the player himself to pay his agent's fee. Nowadays, most managers talk amongst themselves, so there is no need for a third party.

“Colchester only paid out money in agents' fees during the Mick Wadsworth era (March-August, 1999). We got our fingers burned at that time, so I suppose in a way we have Mr Wadsworth to thank for finding out about how agents work. He did us a favour.

“That was the one and only time when we spent money on agents. We have not done it since,” added Mrs Partner.

Football League chairman, Lord Mawhinney, is confident that the overall amount of money paid to agents will decrease over the next few years, even though this latest report shows an increase of almost £1.8m on the money spent in the same period last season.

“The League's new agents' regulations, introduced over the summer, have helped bring greater levels of transparency and integrity to the transfer system,” said Lord Mawhinney.

“In making these changes, we fully understood that the culture of paying agents was deeply embedded and would take time to reverse.

“However, change is in the air and the FA's new regulations on agents will also help to reinforce the Football League's message to its clubs.”

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