Watford are almost certain to have agreed with agents to stagger their commission over the length of their player’s contract, judging by the figures released today on all payments to agents.
Watford paid £1,620.229 to agents during the period October 2014 to September 2015 when they signed 18 players, made seven loan deals (including Adlene Guedioura twice), renewed the contracts of six players and recruited a new head coach.
The amount paid by Watford in this 12-month period is the lowest in the Premier League by £708,000 and only £518,000 and £771,000 more than Derby County and Reading, respectively.
Agents can command a fee of up to ten per cent of a player’s guaranteed annual income. The commission is typically split 50-50 between player and club. The chances of a deal going through can often hinge on the structure of the agent’s commission. Players have been known to sign for clubs because the agent’s fee will be paid up front, in one lump sum.
The figures released today do not reflect those players who arrange to pay their agent direct. Most, however, have the money deducted by the club from their wages.
According to the website Transfermarkt, Watford spent £32.64m on transfer fees and a £1.4m loan fee to Cagliari for Victor Ibarbo this summer. This total of £34.04m does not include the undisclosed amount paid to Crystal Palace for Adlène Guedioura or any loan fees paid for Nathan Ake or Alessandro Diamanti. The agency ProSoccer24 will also have billed for their services in facilitating a two-year contract for their client, Quique Sanchez Flores.
Mino Raiola brokered the deals reportedly worth £10.88m to bring Etienne Capoue and Steven Berghuis to Vicarage Road in the summer. Raiola, who said he has known Gino Pozzo for more than 25 years, has, according to a recent report by Forbes on the world’s richest football agents, received career payments of £18.7m on completed deals worth £187m. He is ranked fifth in the list of world’s richest agents.
Ranked seventh is Thomas Kroth, who represents Jose Holebas. He has been paid £14.7m on career transfer deals worth £146m. Watford paid a reported £1.75m for Holebas.
Jose Manuel Jurado, Valon Behrami and Obbi Oulare all signed for seven-figure transfer fees, totalling an estimated £14.23m.
Troy Deeney – who is represented by Michael Ricketts – Craig Cathcart, Gabriele Angella, Odion Ighalo, Almen Abdi, Heurelho Gomes and Ikechi Anya all signed contract extensions, although Anya does not use an agent. Agents are again typically paid between five and ten per cent of a player’s basic annual pay for contract renewals otherwise they will earn money from taking a player elsewhere.
Allan Nyom, Sebastian Prödl, Giedrius Arlauskis and Miguel Britos were all signed on free transfers. It is widely accepted agents are paid a commission equal to ten per cent fee of a player’s basic annual pay.
So, bearing in mind Watford’s level of transfer activity and the number of contract extensions, the figure of £1,620.229 is likely to only represent their initial payment to agents. For example, if Raiolo was paid £600,000 for arranging the club transfer of Capoue, he could have agreed to be paid £150,000 for every year of the midfielder’s contract.
Watford will not be alone in staggering payments to agents. Arsenal signed one player in the summer, Petr Cech, so the £11.98m they spent on agents in the same period is likely to reflect agents fees for, say, the deals to bring Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil to the Emirates.
The list of agent fees also reflects money to paid to agents to move on unwanted, perhaps high earning, players. Cardiff City paid £2.82m in agents fee in the October to September period, Fulham £2.73m.
Premier League agents fees October 2014 to September 2015