Payments to agents acting on international transfers for clubs rose to £155m ($236m) in 2014 according to Fifa figures, with a booming English transfer market accounting for by far the largest slice.
The study of the market in 2014 showed that despite the introduction of Uefa’s financial fair play rules, the booming broadcast market and growing commercial opportunities enabled English clubs to carry on spending.
One in four dollars spent globally on international transfers was allocated to English clubs and more than one in three dollars paid to agents originated from England.
Payments to agents acting on behalf of clubs have risen on average 27% year on year since 2011, when the total stood at $131m.
Of an overall transfer market that broke the $4bn barrier for the first time, English clubs spent a record $1.17bn. The huge disparity in spending between the big European leagues and the rest is reflected in the fact the money spent by English clubs on overseas transfers was more than a quarter of the total.
The second biggest spender, Spain, bought players for a total of $700m and the third, Germany, for $327m. The amount spent in France fell from $421m to $221m as the realities of FFP hit Paris Saint-Germain and other clubs such as Monaco put the brakes on their spending.
The figures, compiled by Fifa’s transfer matching system, the electronic marketplace that underpins all international transfers, show that more than a fifth of all transfers across borders in 2014 involved at least one intermediary.
That represents a reversal of the trend between 2011 and 2013, when the number of transfers involving agents dropped year on year.
Of the total spent on paying intermediaries, English clubs shelled out $87m, a $12m increase on 2013 and more than a third (37%) of the overall total.
The TMS system, put in place seven years ago to monitor and register international transfers, requires the declaration of payments to intermediaries acting on behalf of clubs, but not to players’ agents.
Mark Goddard, the general manager of Fifa TMS, said it was impossible to say what effect the recent decision to ban third-party ownership would have on the market.
“We’ll see what impact the new regulations have but we’ll still continue to record the so-called intermediary commissions and what the effect is,” he said. “There’s a lot of speculation.”
The 2014 report also identified a so-called “World Cup effect” where the value of transfers involving players of countries who overachieved increased. Transfers featuring Costa Rica players, for example, reached $10m in 2014 compared with $1m the year before.
Of those teams that reached the quarter-finals or beyond, there was an 18% increase in the volume of players of those nationalities signed by overseas clubs compared to the previous year. Taken together, the value of players from those nations who reached the quarter finals rose by 27% after the tournament when compared to 2013.SOURCE