Neville claims agents 'should be removed'

February 15, 2007

Manchester United captain Gary Neville wants agents to be removed from football, claiming he does not know many good ones.

The role of representatives has been under the microscope for some time thanks to the large amounts of money being charged for brokering deals between players and clubs.

Neville, who has been with United for his entire professional career, believes their influence is now too great and wants to see a backlash.

He told Sky Sports News: 'I'd like to see the removal of agents from the game - make players not so reliant on them.

'We've got the PFA - and they want to give, not take.'

Asked if there were any good agents, he said: 'I don't know many. There is a concern for me, and it always has been.

'Our guy can go in [to a deal] and expect to be giving hundreds of thousands or, in this day and age, even millions [to an agent] - and that money is going out of the game.

'The clubs should keep that money - or, if they're earning it, the players.'

Neville admits, however, change will only come about through the direct action of the players themselves.

He added: 'It won't change until players become more responsible for their actions.

'They think they need them - but it's not the case.

'They need good advice and good accountants - but they don't need people taking hundreds of thousands off them.'

Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, appreciates Neville's frustrations.

Speaking at the launch of Profile, the official PFA community magazine, Taylor said: 'Gary always speaks his mind. He speaks as he finds - and he is entitled to his opinion.

'It's one of the reasons why the PFA have always been keen to make clear to our members that we've the best experience in the world - and we're happy to help them all with contracts and negotiations.

'That's what we're about - but having said that, there are a number of players who have agents we work with on different issues.'

Taylor agrees with Neville that some agents do not look after the best interests of their clients.

He continued: 'I worry they trawl their nets too wide sometimes for youngsters in the hope they can pick one up - and then don't give enough care.

'Of the 600 youngsters who enter the game at 16, five out of six will be out of it by the time they are 21.

'So I'll be interested to see how many agents help young players to get through university, or job re-training, or look after their operations in later years.

'Obviously there are players who need a 24-hour service, and that is not always possible for us to provide - because we do have 4,000 members.

'But certainly that side of affairs is developing and building up (within the PFA).'

Agent Mel Stein defended his profession, claiming: 'It's a free country, with freedom of choice.

'If a club are willing to pay an agent on behalf of a player why should they not pay it?

'We need a bit of a charm offensive to educate the public about what we have to do.

'There are a lot of good agents in the game who put money back into it.

'Agents source young talent, not on the pitch but off it. They provide a professional service - agents who represent tennis players are not pilloried.'

He continued on Sky Sports News: ``It's not the fans' money - it's the club's money when they acquire the services of a player.

'I hear what Gary Neville says about the PFA - but they are a trade union, generally ex professional footballers.

'If you're buying a house would you want a bricklayer to do the conveyancing for you?'