By Alex Narey
On Wednesday last week, the Football Association released figures for agent fees spent by clubs from February 2018 to January 31 this year.
As always, it made for interesting reading with Salford City – perhaps not surprisingly – taking the lion’s share of the £378,605 forked out across the National League and below, their outlay of £76,338 equating to just shy of 25 per cent.
At first glance the figure looks a daunting one, especially when compared to other big-spending and well-financed clubs in the National League. Leyton Orient spent just over £30,000 during this period, with Wrexham’s bill totalling £26,468.
But ultimately, it becomes a drop in the ocean for Salford should they achieve their ambition of promotion to the Football League, and let’s remember, the club is likely to have recouped a sizeable chunk of their fees back as some of that 76k went towards their climb out of the National North last season.
Also, while not attempting to justify lavish living, it’s worth noting that while the combined fees are once again up year on year, Salford’s spending comes nowhere near Forest Green Rovers’ whopping £174,613, which was spent from February 2016 to January 2017 as they chased promotion – successfully in the end – to the Football League.
There has long been a stigma attached to agents, from Eric ‘Monster’ Hall to Jerry Maguire, opinions always differ. I remember Steve Gibson, the Middlesbrough chairman, once saying an agent had charged the club north of £1,000 for making a 30-second phone call. But everything has its price, and for a club that is chasing promotion, a high turnover of players comes with the territory.
Love them or loathe them, agents are part of the game’s fabric, and in Non-League I have come across many more good eggs than bad.
Salford’s spending aside, Chesterfield, having dished out £72,943 over the last year, are an example of a club that has got it wrong, while Solihull Moors, who have revamped a relegation-bound squad into one chasing a place in the Football League (£5,660), appear to have the balance sheets just about right.