The press enjoyed a field day this week doing what they love most, expressing outraged indignation and high dudgeon on behalf of the nation's morals. Two disturbingly overlapping stories within 24 hours gave true football fans much to ponder.
I make no apologies for returning to a theme blogged here a month ago. How much longer can our game expect to flourish when such unhealthy modes of governance continue to hold sway? I refer of course to those bottom feeders, the agents, who continue to leech revenues away from the game in return for - frankly, precious little.
Wednesday saw release of the Football League's 3rd annual report into agents fees. In the teeth of the worst global recession to hit since 1929, and despite a significant drop in transfer deals, combined agents increased their take from the game by more than one third.
League clubs poured £12.7 million into their coffers, up from £8.8 million in the previous season.
"Given the current economic climate, it is worrying to see such a significant amount leaking from the game," said Football League chairman Greg Clarke. No word as yet if anyone is thinking of doing something about it. In the Championship Middlesboro burnt their way through £1.5 million in fees on 29 different deals, while subsiding into mid-table obscurity. Even more alarming, promoted Newcastle spent £1,073.076 on just seven deals, suggesting an appalling lack of fiduciary care by their board.
The day after the report made headlines, one Premiership chairman did decide to do something. In a week when Karl Oyston should have been on cloud nine after Blackpool's opening day romp at Wigan, the Blackpool chairman resigned. Oyston said he was 'sickened' by the activities of agents over the summer, and the lack of will from other Premiership clubs to do anything about it.
Oyston said: "The more I speak to other people at other clubs, the more I realise I am a lone voice. I'm not sure I have the right approach to be in this division. Everyone else seems to subscribe to the way business seems to be conducted and it is a way I find unacceptable"
Oyston said he had found some support in the Championship for his desire to limit the power of agents, but none at all from around the Premiership's top table.
Down at homely Plymouth, two divisions below Blackpool, Peter Reid was predicting a 'dramatic decline' in agents fees for this season and an end to the big pay days. We shall see. To date this branch of football's business fraternity has shown itself to be recession-proof, and more slippery than Paul the Octopus.
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