If you follow English football at all, you’ll be bored to tears by the constant discussion of bungs, or shady / illegal payments from agents to managers and players for revenue generating transfers between teams.

Many have bloviated about it, and I shall be no exception. Those who suggest that it can’t be prevented inasmuch as people will always find ways to skirt or break rules are right, but there are some simple things that could be done to make the dishonest at least work harder:

  1. Agents are paid only by players. This is the American model and I think it’s a good one. The player is the beneficiary of an agent’s effort; they should be paying the agent. Clubs spend money already trying to identify prospects, there’s no reason that they should be paying twice. However, this should be accompanied with ending the rule of “tapping up,” or approaching a player without first informing his employer. Part of the benefit of independent agents is their capacity to evade tapping up restrictions. Remove freelance agents, and allow footballers to behave consistent with a”normal” labor market, and you might see some interesting changes.
  2. All transactions to go through the FA. Have a holding account, or an escrow account, through which all transfer funds must be placed. If the transfer has to be approved by the FA, then having some transparency and traceability wouldn’t hurt. It doesn’t mean that anyone could trace the money to its eventual destination, but at least it would deter the most obvious of funny business.
  3. All players, managers, and club executives agree to provide the FA access to their various accounts for audit purposes. Much more intrusive, but again it would deter the obvious monkey business

Of course, you could go the NORML route and legalize it. Develop an approved list and percentages for “fees” etc., and let managers and clubs decide if they want to be rentier parasites in the open, in exchange for not having to worry about being thrown out of the game.

None of this will make that big a difference, but it would go some way to convincing the paying public that they were actually getting what they paid for, and there’s some value in that.


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