Football League chairman Greg Clarke has called for clubs to cut agents’ fees (Football League)

(WFI) Football League chairman Greg Clarke has expressed concern about soaring agents’ fees in the English game after it was revealed that the league’s 72 clubs spent £12.7m on agents’ fees in the year to June.

The new figures published today show that collectively clubs spent £3.9 million more than the corresponding period in 2008/09 (£8.8m).

“Given the current economic climate, it is worrying to the see such a significant amount leaking from the game,” Clarke said.

He warned clubs that they must make cutbacks on agents’ fees this season to help safeguard their financial welfare as they continue to manage the repercussions of the recession.

“This year’s figures demonstrate a considerable increase on those of last season and it is essential that clubs work to reduce this liability over the coming campaign.”

Last season, clubs paid agents in 396 (16.6%) of the 2,392 player transactions that took place, collectively committing £12,739,867.

Championship clubs accounted for £10.1m (79.5%) of this total; all 24 clubs paid for the services of a licensed agent. League 1 and League 2 clubs accounted for £2.2m and £400,000 respectively.

Only 14 of the Football League’s 72 clubs did not allocate any money to agents during the 12 months covered by the report.

They were Accrington Stanley, AFC Bournemouth, Barnet, Chesterfield, Crewe Alexandra, Dagenham & Redbridge, Darlington, Exeter City, Hereford United, Lincoln City, Macclesfield Town, Port Vale, Stockport County and Tranmere Rovers.

A total of nine other clubs paid less than £10,000 to agents in the 2009/10 season.

Arsenal Fanshare scheme launched
The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust today launched a new initiative to allow fans to buy shares in Arsenal FC and have a greater say in the governance of the north London club.

Fanshares cost just one hundredth of the price of shares in Arsenal, trading at around £10,000 each. Supporters are encouraged to pay the £100 in a lump sum or in monthly instalments of £10.

For their contribution, members get an Arsenal Fanshare Custodianship Certificate and full shareholder’s rights, meaning they can attend the annual general meeting and vote on issues affecting the running of the club.

Billed as “an exciting and affordable new way to buy shares in the ownership of Arsenal”, the Arsenal Fanshare scheme has received the blessing of the club’s board and chief executive Ivan Gazidis as well as its four major shareholders.

“As football becomes a bigger and bigger business, few fans are able to retain a share in the ownership of their clubs. The result has been that the fans’ voice on matters affecting their clubs’ futures has grown weaker,” said a statement issued by Arsenal Supporters’ Trust today.

“But at Arsenal, the idea of custodianship and plurality of ownership is central to the club’s

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is right behind the scheme (Getty)

unique character.

“Custodianship is the responsibility of all Arsenal stakeholders to look after the club’s values and spirit; and keep them safe for future generations.”

Arsenal’s four major shareholders include US sports mogul Stan Kroenke (29.9%), Uzbek-Russian mining billionaire Alisher Usmanov (27%). Danny Fiszman and Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith both have 15.9% stakes.

Tim Payton, spokesman for the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, said: “The AST recently surveyed its membership on their preferred ownership structure at Arsenal. Ninety percent of AST members rate maintaining the club’s custodianship and protecting the long-term future to be the most important priority of Arsenal’s Board.

“There is little support for the club being taken private with 84% preferring Arsenal’s ownership model to be one that includes supporter representation.”

He added: “Arsenal Fanshare meets the demand from Arsenal supporters that the club should remain in plural ownership. Plurality in the club’s ownership structure has served Arsenal well over the years and is the best way to ensure the necessary checks and balances are in place to protect the club’s long-term future.”

Kroenke’s purchase of shares in the past year, pushing him towards the 30% threshold and a possible takeover bid, had appeared to put the ownership of the club in doubt. Concerns have also been voiced by the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust about the impact Bracewell-Smith’s plans to sell her 15.9% stake will have on the ownership structure.

But Payton said the support Arsenal Fanshare had received from all of the club’s major shareholders and “should allow all talk of a takeover to be put to one side”.

“We urge all Arsenal fans to take this unique opportunity and get involved. By working together we can make Arsenal even stronger.”

Arsenal fans can sign up to the scheme at www.arsenalfanshare.co.uk

Man Utd sign Hong Kong’s PCCW
Manchester United have signed Hong Kong telecoms firm PCCW as their official broadcaster in the territory.

The three-year deal means PCCW have exclusive broadcasting rights of MUTV, MUTV Online and MU Mobile contents in Hong Kong. United content will also be available on PCCW’s other quadruple-play platforms – now.com.hk, PCCW mobile and PCCW eye2.

PCCW and Manchester United will also jointly develop a promotional microsite (manutd.now.com), in Chinese and English, specifically tailored for fans in Hong Kong.

Through various promotion and subscription reward initiatives, fans will have the opportunity to win signed merchandise and tickets and hospitality packages for games at Old Trafford.

Commenting on the deal, United manager Alex Ferguson said: “The club has fantastic support in Hong Kong.
“This partnership means any of those fans can keep up to date with what’s going on at United wherever they are – at home, online or on the move. It’s a terrific service.“

By INSIDER editor
Mark
Bisson

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