FIFA: Agents increase cut of transfer deals

Football agents got a lot richer last year.

Agents took a bigger cut from international player transfers in

2012, even as trading in the billion-dollar market fell by $290

million, according to FIFA research published Tuesday.

Player representatives took $163 million in fees from clubs, at

28 percent average commission, as their total take from

cross-border transfers rose $33 million last year.

”2012 witnessed a greater involvement of intermediaries,” FIFA

subsidiary Transfer Matching System (TMS) stated in an annual

survey which logged deals worth $2.53 billion.

Clubs in 200 countries must use the online platform to detail

all their payments when players move between different countries

either for a fee, on loan or when out of contract.

English clubs spent the most, with FIFA processing $59 million

in fees to agents in international deals.

Italian clubs paid $41 million and Russian clubs $23 million,

and agents also banked payments from players which FIFA’s system

doesn’t record.

”Obviously, money going to an intermediary is leaving

football,” TMS general manager Mark Goddard said in a conference


FIFA’s insight into how much agents earn from clubs follows

after football’s governing body revealed in January it was

preparing to help teams cut out middle men and deal directly with

each other.

An online system called Global Player Exchange is being

developed to help clubs share information about players available

to sign.

Asked if the latest survey showed how agents drove up clubs’

transfer expenses, Goddard replied: ”I am happy we can give the

data so that clubs can start asking questions themselves.”

In 2012, player representatives were paid commissions from 706

international transfers, a 19 percent increase year-on-year.

Agents’ income soared despite FIFA logging a 10 percent drop in

total value of international transfers. In 2011, the market was

worth $2.82 billion.

Goddard declined to speculate if the global financial downturn

was responsible for a drop in spending when the total number of

completed international transfers, 11,552, rose by 1 percent last

year. Seven out of every 10 transfers involved free-agent


English clubs, boosted by lucrative television deals, were net

spenders of $314 million, and Russian clubs, backed by wealthy

owners and sponsors, collectively spent $256 million more on

international transfers than they received.

Countries where the European economic crisis hit hardest were

net earners from FIFA-monitored transfer deals, including Portugal

($103 million), Italy ($91 million) and Spain ($50 million).

Brazil earned the most, with clubs collectively receiving $121

million more than they spent, as 1,463 transfers processed by TMS

involved Brazilian players. United States players accounted for 174

completed cross-border deals.

Still, players of all nationalities moving to Brazil were

collecting an average salary of $80,000, and just $40,000 in


Italian clubs were playing an average salary of $720,000 to a

player signed from elsewhere and English clubs paid an average of


An intermediary was involved on behalf of a club or player in a

total of 2,199 deals, 19 percent of all international


FIFA does not yet monitor transfers between two clubs from the

same association, such as Manchester United’s reported 24 million

pounds ($37 million) purchase of Robin van Persie from Arsenal last


Goddard said TMS, which became mandatory since 2010 to improve

transparency in club finances, could expand in future to process

domestic transfers.