The FA has published details of each Premier League club’s declared intermediary transactions for 2019/20, as required under FIFA regulations since 2015.

For each 12 month window (running 1 Feb – 31 Jan), the FA document total payments made by clubs to registered intermediaries and list the transactions in which each registered intermediary was involved.

The FA caveats the above by stating: “Payments included in these figures may have been made in respect of transactions entered into prior to the first date of the reporting period. The total payment figure per club will, therefore, not necessarily relate directly to those transactions listed involving a registered intermediary for the same period.”

When it comes to permanent and loan transfers, intermediaries can represent a player, the selling club, the buying club or a combination of all three.

Additionally, agents can be paid for their part in contract extension negotiations.

In total, for the period covering the summer 2019 and January 2020 windows, the Premier League spent a whopping £263.4 million on intermediaries.

Arsenal’s total for this period was £13.6 million, approximately £2.4 million more than the year before, and is the seventh highest figure in the Premier League.

Given our transfer spending (albeit spread out over the course of deals) was double the year before, it looks – on the surface – like we’ve done very well to keep the agent fees down. In 2018-19, the £11.2m paid in intermediary fees was 15.5% of our outlay, whereas the reported figure of £13.6m is 9.5% of the £144m we spent last summer – a significant difference.

It’s worth bearing in mind that transfer expenditure doesn’t necessarily correlate to what you pay out in the same period on agent fees. As illustrated by this table.

Outlay 19/20 Incoming fees 19/20 Agent fees 19/20
Liverpool £9.36m £37.4m £30.3m
Man City £150.1m £62.1m £29m
Man Utd £192.6m £64.78m £27.5m
Chelsea £40.5m £127.8m £26.1m
Everton 107.9m £72.45m £16.9m
Leicester City £93.9m £79.6m £15.4m
Arsenal 144.36m £48.2m £13.6m
West Ham £99.2m £47.1m £13.1m
Tottenham Hotspur £133.7m £51.3m £12.5m
Watford £43.20 £22.86m £9.9m
Bournemouth £50.8m £31m £9.50
Newcastle United £65.6m £32m £9m
Wolves £106m £21.6m £8.6m
Crystal Palace £6.84m £50.8m £8.2m
Southampton £52.70 £23.7m £6.9m
Aston Villa £143.10 £3.6m £6.7m
Brighton £69.4m £2.25m £6.90
Norwich City £7.9m £1.98m £4.9m
Sheffield United £62.10 £315,000 £4.3m
Burnley £17.5m £12.2m £3.9m

Intermediary fees can also be spread out across the duration of a transfer; it’s also possible that some elements of the work may fall under consultancy fees for accounting purposes; and it’s quite common that deals are structured in such a way that when a buying club makes payment to the selling club, it’s from this money that intermediaries are then paid.

Here’s a breakdown of Arsenal’s deals over the last few years and the intermediary fees paid out.

Arsenal x Agent Fees 2015 - 2020

PERIODARSENAL SIGNINGSPLAYERSARSENAL LOANSPLAYERSEST TOTAL COST *ARSENAL DECLARED FEESPL TOTAL FEESLINK to FEESLINK to TRANSACTIONS
01.02.15 - 31.01.16 2Cech
Elneny
£23.85m£3.14m£46.6mLINKLINK
01.02.16 - 31.01.176Xhaka
Mustafi
Perez
Asano
Holding
Bramall
£102m£10.2m£174.2mLINKLINK
01.02.17 - 31.01.18
5Aubameyang
Lacazette
Mkhitryan
Mavropanos
Kolasinac
£137.57m£10.6m£211mLINKLINK
01.02.18 - 31.01.195Torreira
Leno
Sokratis
Guendouzi
Lichtsteiner
1Suarez£72.14m£11.2m£260.1mLINKLINK
01.02.19 - 31.01.205Martinelli
Saliba
Pepe
Tierney
Luiz
3Mari
Soares
Ceballos**
£144.36m
£13.6m£263.4mLINKLINK

* Estimated transfer outlay via transfermarkt.co.uk

A few things of note on the 2019/20 fees…

  • The Nicolas Pepe transfer saw Aboubakar Traore represent the player and Arsenal – a long read on the nuts and bolts of that deal can be found on GFFN.
  • Kieran Tierney’s deal was brokered by Stellar Football, the agency headed up by Jonathan Barnett, infamous for his part in the Ashley Cole/Chelsea saga.
  • The Kia Joorabchian-owned Sports Invest UK Ltd represented Arsenal in David Luiz’s move from Chelsea. The player himself was represented by Giuliano Bertolucci, a long-time associate of Joorabchian.
  • Sports Invest UK Ltd represented Arsenal in Alex Iwobi’s move to Everton.
  • Sports Invest UK Ltd represented Arsenal in the Cedric Soares loan deal. Arsenal were also represented by Amir Ali Kohansal who looked after Cedric’s side of things too.
  • **The Dani Ceballos deal is not listed, suggesting the deal was done without any agent/intermediary, but this would be extremely rare.
  • AC Talent Sports & Entertainment UK Limited, owned by Arturo Canales, represented Arsenal and Pablo Mari as he moved on loan from Flamengo. Canales was Unai Emery’s representative, and has a long-standing relationship with Raul Sanllehi from his days at Barcelona.
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Giuseppe Hovno

So did Kia Joorabchian’s agency help us get a good deal when we sold Iwobi? That’s the best sale we’ve done for ages.

karl

Other clubs are regularly selling average talent for those fees.
 
We paid £24m for one of Luiz and £5m for Soares to sit on the treatment table.

Joythah

So how come Raul Sanlehi is being demonized… Someone explain

Nathaniel Lee

Yeah, why is everyone complaining about being 12th in the table? Raul 4 ever!!!

John C

Because he hasn’t reversed 10 years of managed decline in 4 transfer windows and on a limited budget

arseblog

Our decline since he took over the running of the football club has been increasingly steep

John C

No it hasn’t.   The previous management set fire to the clubs finances on their way out.   Record fee and high wages on a striker 6 months after spending a record fee on a striker despite only playing 1 striker.   £350 grand a week on Ozil whom had already at that point started to consistently missed away matches.   Turning down £60m for Sanchez only to swap him for a worse player on double the wages.   Add to this a group of expensive players on high wages that no other club is prepared to buy, Europa cup… Read more »

karl

I’d forgotten that Raul was up against such stiff competition for incompetence:-)

OnlyBeingHonest

I’d up vote that comment twice if I could, spot on mate

Michael Bolton Wanderers

Good points. Looks like we went from shit to shit

Futsboller

The club is still in a state of crisis, no question, but it is rather shortsighted to try and leave all the blame with the previous management team, and the focus on wages is absurd: Arsenal earn and turnover more than enough to pay the wages of its players, even really high wages, and having Auba and Ozil earning half-a-million per week did not prevent us from making another record signing with Pepe.   The problem is that we’ve been recruiting mediocre players for too long now — that stretches back to the previous management — and not transforming them… Read more »

John C

I disagree, the previous management left little to no capacity to buy the quality and quantity of player we need, that is the problem.
 
If you believe otherwise please tell me why?

Kostas

Blogs, even though now it seems obvious that we declined, I remember you saying smth about “Don” Raul at the last day if the transfer market how successful it was.
Also we said that we should be patient with the next manager after AW because it is a tough job.
Also saying we should be patient with MA because it is a tough job.

And to be honest I agree with you. We need to be patient.
Especially now. It is a youth team afterall.

Olu

The media mate, the mainstream media can destroy anything/anybody!

James

And 5G causes Covid 19

Martin

😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

Reality check

Someone needs to be blamed, it’s therapeutic, it’s how you get a closure. Otherwise you’ll stay angry and frustrated.

Futsboller

Our transfer business of late relies on Raul’s relationships with agents with whom he is very close. It *appears* that there have been moments when Arsenal are in need of a player and it *appears* that Raul turns to Kia and the latter then provides him with a player from his stable. The player is signed by Arsenal on a multiyear deal, everyone touts him a as a player we’ve been watching and studying for years, Kia gets a delightful handshake and a delicious fee, and it *appears* like everyone has done his job well. For the sake of expediency,… Read more »

kaius

This comment seems nice and neutral but “it appears” that there’s some hidden bias here. Some of our fans “appear” very attached to the pointless tabloid rumour that Raul wanted to give Emery another deal. In reality, he sacked him and appointed Arteta, who you say is the “right coach”. It “appears” that Raul gets no credit for that. Sven Mislintat, the half-scout half-god everyone says we’re missing, was part of the triumvirate who appointed Emery, but it “appears” Raul gets all the blame for that now. It’s also strange that our coach Mikel Arteta has been vocal about wanting… Read more »

OnlyBeingHonest

Keeps signing shite players

Niall

That’s lower agent fees than I expected from us… Maybe Kia Joorabchian charges low fees which is why we keep going back to him

John C

What kind of conspiracy theorist are you?!? You can do better than that surely?

Diaminedave

Are there ways to get around declaring the agent fees?
for instance a signing on fee to player who then pays agent.
Looking at the Liverpool numbers it would seeem that some of the costs get out off until later, is that correct?
Buying players that might be not who we need to spread the costs around??

Diaminedave

…get put off until later….
 
oops

NKG

I’m impressed by your commitment to the narrative you’ve pitched re: agents and Raul. Maybe we’ll see the agent fees balloon next year, we’ll see in a year, but based on the evidence we have, the fees have been consistent and modest, relative to our peers and the industry. In general I find the notion that arsenal transfer policy is being run by super agents who are buds with Raul to be unfair/hyperbolic criticism. Of last summer’s incomings, all but one were the product of scouting vs agents (martinelli, Tierney, pepe, saliba, ceballos vs. Luiz). Luiz was an emergency: kosc… Read more »

kaius

I wholeheartedly agree with this.

Our squad-building policy is not perfect, but some of these claims of outright corruption are grossly irresponsible.

kaius

Andrew Allen, there’s a massive contradiction here.

The fact is, no-one outside the club can provide the full picture, which means the whole narrative about agents is based on incomplete information. Yet some of us now act like it’s settled fact!

If the narrative had been based on proper comparative analysis of what other clubs who’ve been dealing with agents for years have been doing, there’d be much less hysteria about it.

karl

He also provides lower quality players for those fees.

kevinm8128

So just to clarify that I am reading (and understanding) the last portion of this piece correctly.
 
The Kia Joorabchian owned Sports Invest UK represented Arsenal in negotiations with David Luiz and Cedric Soares… who are clients of Kia Joorabchian, are they not?

James

I mean it’s ALMOST as if there might be some conflict of interest.

Andy

How in the name of my shitting goat, can the same agent represent both parties? This is totally insane.

1800Nketiah

So it looks like those cozy evil agent relationships blogs has been banging on about is a big nothing burger. All top clubs deal with them so I don’t see a way around it if we want to get back in to the top.

Maul Person

Because they’re everywhere, we should be happy with it? Nah mate.

1800Nketiah

Not saying we should be jumping with joy, but it’s obvious the best agents have a scouting network that rivals the best teams. If we want quality players in 2020 we will have to work with some of these agents. All businesses operate on relationships so it should be no surprise that we’re working with the same agents that Raul and Edu have worked with in the past.

kaius

We’ve had our arses handed to us by so many European clubs who were dealing with these evil agents when Wenger refused to.

In my opinion increased transparency and vigilance around agent fees is a good thing for the game. But Arsenal are the only fanbase getting hysterical and spinning conspiracy theories out of it.

Grymelock

So are we getting shafted by Raul’s little club or not? Are things better or worse than I thought? I’m confused 😖

Goofy Gooner

Not far off the league table to be honest.

Wilsheres Middle Finger

I’d love to think that these tables can be taken at face value, but given the murky world of football agents I just can’t.

karl

This is painful reading. Quarter of a billion drained from the game that is paid for by fans.
 
Ticket prices and TV subs are very high and the money is going straight out of the game into a very few pockets.

FrankReynolds

Agent fees are amortized over the life of a contract, so if you look at the past 3-4 years that gives a normalized estimate of how much we are paying agents relative to our total transfer activity. Depending on a number of variables, we seem to sit somewhere between 4th-7th in terms of total fees paid to intermediaries as a % of total spend. I think this definitely mitigates some of the concern fans may have for agents taking bags & bags of cash off of us each window, but it does not address my primary worry… That would be… Read more »

kaius

No to be fair, that’s not the way the Premier League or Arsenal works.

Sven Mislintat literally used his contacts at Dortmund to secure deals for Sokratis and Aubameyang, our best signing of the last decade.

Arsene Wenger himself directly referenced Mislintat’s contacts as the factor that made Auba’s signing possible.

Like our major Prem and European rivals, we use both contacts *and* agents. Often in the same deal.

There is an article on this very blog detailing how that process works in practice:

https://arseblog.news/2020/04/scout-reveals-the-process-behind-gabriel-martinelli-capture/

kaius

*Apologies, I meant to write “we use both contacts/agents and data/scouting“. It’s also weird to signpost Lille and Ajax as clubs we should aspire to, when wenallnkkow the levels of those leagues is what allows those clubs to develop untested talent. Also, and this is a major, major point: the Gooner fanbase would go nuts if we signed some of the players those two clubs sign. You think our fans would’ve welcomed signings like Daley Blind, Lasse Schone, Benjamin Andre, and Yusuf Yazici? And Dusan Tadic?? We’ve just signed another experienced player from Southampton in Cedric and half the fanbase… Read more »

Kostas

We shouldn’t just observe numbers. We should compare value for money. Maybe the agent fees are not a lot but if it is for a 33 Luiz an injured Soares maybe it’s a fortune…

Andy

I think we should kick Kia out and employ Brighton’s agents.

Jim

Blogs has been talking about these astronomical agents fees for a while now. But as a percentage fees/outlay we are one of the lowest spenders on agents in the league. Right? Or am I missing something here???

Jan

I work in the music industry. Acts have agents. The agent gets them gigs, looks after their brand, negotiates fees and then gets a cut. If someone wants to book the act, they have to talk to the agent, not the act. The act then performs the service for the client. The act could do all this themselves, but the agent has the contacts and knows how to get the best fees, so it’s a no-brainer for a successful act to have an agent. I understand footballers having agents – they look after their career, negotiate the highest wages etc….… Read more »