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Five shady practices common in football


The Financial Times has identified five shady practices which it claims are common in English football.  It says that football's short termism, where players' careers are short and vulnerable to serious injury and where managers know they can be fired at any moment, may create the conditions for corruption.

Dual representation refers to a situation where an agent acts for both the player and the buying or selling club.   This conflict of interest is not against FA rules.   It means that the player does not have to pay the agent out of his own pocket.

The FA requires agents to be licensed, but it is not unknown for a registered agent to act as a frontman for an unregistered 'adviser'.   A recent case related to the transfer of Ross McCormack from Leeds to Fulham in 2014.   It is alleged that Massimo Cellino and Leeds paid £10,500 to the player's unofficial adviser, a Scottish boxing promoter called Barry Hughes.   The allegations are denied.

One reason that Lord Stevens failed to unearth conclusive evidence of illegal commission in 2006 was that the trail often vanished offshore.   A lawyer who advises clubs and players on transfer deals said that one agent had opened an account in the Middle East and sent a bank card to a club official, allowing him to draw out money in a way that was difficult to trace.

Another issue that arose in the past was the sons of managers working as agents in transfer deals. The Stevens investigation refused to sign off three transfer deals involving Craig Allardyce, the son of Sam Allardyce.

The FA does not allow agents to represent players under the age of 16.   Instead, agents often approach the relatives of young players, putting pressure on them to agree to deals.

No doubt all these things go on, but the difficulty is converting allegations and hearsay into evidence.