The Cross Word: Numbers add up over agents’ fees

Agents will have profited handsomely from Jed Wallace's move to Wolves. Picture: Joe Pepler
Agents will have profited handsomely from Jed Wallace's move to Wolves. Picture: Joe Pepler
Stuart O'Keefe. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey midfielder will relish facing former club

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Paying out £268,715 to agents over a year period seems quite a lot for a League Two club.

In fact, let’s have it right, it IS a lot for a League Two club.

There is now a belief in the people running Portsmouth Football Club.

Almost double the nearest side in the fourth tier, actually, when analysing the figures released by the Football League this week, and over a quarter of the league’s total spend.

And more than any club who was operating in League One last season.

More than four sides currently operating in the Championship, too – Ipswich being one of them.

‘Staggering,’ was the assessment of one former Pompey director, when analysing the details of the news which emerged on Monday.

No doubt, those who have kept such a tight rein on the purse strings at Fratton were ready for the backlash.

It came, in a manner of speaking, on social media, online forums and at portsmouth.co.uk.

But it was more a case of the bins being knocked over by a few heavy gusts, rather than the tsunami of angst a financial story would’ve created a few years ago.

Why? Because there is now a belief in the people running Portsmouth Football Club.

And when you scratch beneath the surface of that figure, there is good reason to have faith in those guiding the club forward today.

This, after all, hasn’t exactly been an ordinary period of trading for Pompey.

The period the figures were taken from (October 1, 2014 to September 30, 2015) saw a whopping 25 players arrive at the club.

On top of that, there was the summer departure of the likes Craig Westcarr and Paul Robinson, who still had time to run on their Blues contracts.

Further consideration reveals there has been contracts handed to a host of youngsters who are seen as beacons of hope for the club’s future.

Conor Chaplin, Brandon Haunstrup, Adam May and Adam Webster are the crown jewels, who all have their futures tied to Pompey.

Pompey’s sound financial footing means they can once again pay fees for players – something they did for Kal Naismith, Gary Roberts, Christian Burgess and Paul Cook himself.

Matt Tubbs, although not commanding a fee when joining from Bournemouth, was another high-profile deal for League Two’s top goalscorer in January.

Agents would have benefitted from all of the above.

With the club’s wage bill at the head of the division, the slice of any deal which goes an agent’s way is clearly going to be in excess of the rest of League Two.

That’s all part of the price of being a club with ambitions of progress – one, crucially, Pompey can afford.

And then we arrive at the deal which saw Jed Wallace leave Fratton Park in the summer.

With a host of clubs clamouring for his services, it was Wolves who delivered the terms which won the day.

Figures of around £300,000 were bandied around at the time of Wallace’s exit – an amount since derided as hugely conservative by the Wolves chief executive.

That was a deal which was massively beneficial to Pompey, and, funded the arrival of Cook and his management team, while covering payment to the exiting staff.

It’s a modern reality of the game today that agents will profit from deals.

And when they are attaching themselves to youngsters in their early teens with promises of riches to them and their parents, you know they are an omnipresent feature of the game.

Fortunately we are in an era where Pompey are no longer a club built on shifting financial sands, and have a structure, in the community era, where fans are afforded the transparency they crave.

The days of agents payments being wrapped up in ‘scouting fees’ and disappearing off the radar are a thing of the past.

After announcing operating profits earlier this year, the word is 2016 will herald more evidence of the club being ran on a sure footing.

And that will definitively confirm any alarm bells ringing on Monday needn’t have sounded.