Manager Mark Hughes defended the role of agents in the transfer of players (Getty Images)

Premier League club Manchester City were the biggest spenders on agents fees in the top-flight over the last year. The club bankrolled by Sheikh Mansour splashed out almost £13m ($21.4m).

The 20 Premiership clubs combined spent more than £70 million ($116m) in fees across 803 transactions between Oct.1 and Sept. 30, the league said in a statement.

Manchester City spent £150m in the transfer market in that time, investing £25m on Emmanuel Adebayor and £22.5m on Joleon Lescott.

Manager Mark Hughes today defended the huge sum of money the club has spent on football’s middlemen.

“If you do a lot of deals – and overall something like 35 were included – given the expenditure and the turnover of players involved, you would expect a figure like that,” said Hughes.

“There is a role that has to be met and, at the moment, agents fill it.

Over the past year, City also invested in goalkeeper Shay Given, defenders Wayne Bridge and Kolo Toure, midfielders Gareth Barry and Nigel de Jong and strikers Craig Bellamy, Carlos Tevez and Roque Santa Cruz.

“Do they provide value for money? You have to base every deal on its merits,” said Hughes. “Sometimes you feel the agent has really done his job, on others you feel he is getting money for nothing.”

Hughes admitted that at times agents “can muddy the waters”, adding: “Some deals can seem quite straightforward and then they become complicated at the end. On other occasions the deal goes through very quickly.”

The club’s chief executive Garry Cook defended the club’s massive investment in players over the past year, saying it was needed to rebuild the squad.

Commenting on the £12,874,283 figure, he said: “The fees represent an average of £360,000 per transaction, and the total amount falls well within our annual budget and operating plan as approved by our board.”

In the EPL table of the top spenders on fees to agents, Chelsea were second (£9,562,223) and Liverpool third (£6,657,305). Burnley spent the least (£468,398).

Arsenal were in the top 10 of spenders (£4,760,241). But Manchester United only spent £1.5m on fees following a quiet year in the transfer market.

The Football Association welcomed the publication of agents’ fees, the first time EPL clubs have published their annual spending figures. The Football League has been publishing spending reports for its clubs since 2004.

An FA spokesperson said: “We are pleased that, through these new requirements, clubs are bringing greater transparency to the domestic transfer market.

“For the first time, there will be a game-wide picture of the level of spending on agents. The leagues and other key stakeholders have been fully supportive, following the example set by the Football League with its publication of agents fees over the last few years.”

Written by Mark Bisson ([email protected])

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