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Agents in Football – Focus on EPL

Club football seasons across most of Europe have ended. The lack of serious football (apart from the Euro 2012 in a few weeks) means the off-field stuff like transfer rumors and player agents take the center stage. Recent news items like the deal of Bebe to Manchester United highlight the inefficiencies and the lack of transparency in the transfer market.

In the first post of a series of posts on this topic, we take an in-depth look at the top player agencies in the English Premier League over the past 5 years.

Data

- All data is taken from the website Transfermarkt.

- The agent information is not available for about 38.9% of the total number of players. However they accounted for only 15.7% of the overall market value.
This number includes players

  • whose market value is low
  • who have retired over the past 5 years and
  • who have agents but the information is not available

- We have excluded the set of data with no agent info unless explicitly stated.

Assumption

- Players rarely change agents. They change teams much more often.

 Methodology

-          Histograms of Agent-Club linkage based on:

  • # of players of a team having the same agent
  • Total market value of players of a given agent who play for the same team

-          Visualized Agent-Club relationship using heat maps

Figure 1:  Histograms – Breakdown by Market Value per Agent (in Mil)

 

Figure 2: Histogram – Total player per agent

Histogram of % of players per agent

Figure 3: Histogram of player % and market value %

 

Observations

  • More than 50% of the players and the market value of the transfer market are controlled by a handful of agents.
  • 20 agencies control 50% of the player transfer market. The other 50% is made up of 279 agencies.
  • Some agents have very few clients but who are super stars. The % of market value is disproportionate to the # of players in their clientele.A good example of this is Gestifute, the agency run by Jorge Mendes, the agent of the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani et al. Gestifute is ranked 5th in market value map but only 11th in the player count map. See the histogram of player % & market value %. Another example is Pinhas Zahavi, agent of Carlos Tevez.

Figure 4: Heat Map of Agent-Club by player count

Figure 5: Heat Map of Agent-Club by market value

Figure 6: Heat map by % of players of a team with an agent. (Players whose agent info is unavailable has been included in this calculation)

 

Figure 7: Player Percentage per team sorted by the highest % of players of a team with the same agent.

Observations

  • 10 – Maximum number of players of the same club with the same agent. Sunderland & Stellar Football. (Figure 4 – C)
  • € 145.5m – The highest amount of market value of players of a team linked to the same agent. Manchester United and Gestifute. (Figure 5 – E)
  • 27 – Stellar Football’s players played in 27 of the 29 EPL teams over the last 5 years. This is the maximum number. (Figure 4 – D)
  • 103 – Total number of Stellar Football’s players who played in EPL over the past 5 years (Figure 4 – D)
  • 6 – Arsenal has the highest # & % of players without an agent among the players whose agent info is available. There could be more players with no agents among the players who agent info is not available. (Figure 4- A,6)
  • 14 – EPL clubs dealt with a 14.15 agents on an average over the last 5 years. The Median is 14. (Figure 7)
  • 22 – Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Portsmouth
    have the highest diversity of agents over the past 5 seasons. Fulham is a close second with 21. (Figure 7 – G)
  • 5 – Norwich City and Swansea City with 6 have the least diversity of agents among their player ranks. Both teams were promoted to the EPL at the beginning of this season. (Figure 7 – H)
  • The differences between the market value heat map to player count heat map are due to the fact that some agencies (e.g.: Gestifute, Pinhas Zahavi) have a lot of average-to-good players as clients’ vs. others who have only a few clients but are superstars. (Figure 4 – B, 5 – E, 5 – F)
  • In the player count heat map the relationship between Gestifute & Chelsea appears very strong. When Mourinho was the coach at Chelsea, all the Portuguese players at Chelsea (e.g.: Carvalho, Paulo Ferreira, Deco) were represented by Jorge Mendes’s agency. (Figure 4 – B)
  • On a similar note Gestifute has a strong relationship with Manchester United in the market value heat map. This is due to the astronomical market value of Cristiano Ronaldo. (Figure 5 – E)

In the next post we will further analyze the linkage between clubs & agents and also look at other leagues.

Glossary

Top Agents in EPL:

Stellar Football Ltd – David Manasseh, Jonathan Barnett, Ertan Göksu

Base Soccer Agency – Frank Trimboli, Leon Angel           

James Grant Sports Management – Craig Sharon, Lyle Yorks

World in Motion – Andy Evans, Bill Pethybridge, James Lippett, Freddy Akehurst et al

Key Sports Management – John Colquhoun

Gestifute – Jorge Mendes, Luis Correia

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