FA appoint Quest to probe January transfers

February 14, 2008

The Football Association's decision to appoint Quest to carry out an audit of transfers in England has been welcomed by agents.

Quest, who conducted an in-depth probe into the transfer market for the Premier League under former Metropolitan Police commissioner Lord Stevens, will look at a selection of the moves which took place in January and then again this summer.

The FA have set up the project to assess how their new regulations for agents, implemented amid a tide of allegations, are working.

Insiders insist there is no link between the initiative and the Stevens inquiry, and that Quest were only appointed after tendering for the job.

Responding to the announcement, agents have voiced the opinion that reputable members of their profession will have nothing to fear.

Athole Still, whose clients include Manchester City boss Sven-Goran Eriksson, said: 'My reaction is, fine. If, this time, they dig up something illegal, then I will be delighted.

'Anything that keeps the game clean and improves the, in many respects, totally unjustified opinion of agents all being money-grabbers and dishonest and so on, that's absolutely fine.'

His view was shared by Sky Andrew, agent for Sol Campbell among others.

He said: 'It's very good. The more transparency we have, the better. I am 100% in favour. I am in support of every deal being as transparent as possible.'

Ian Elliott, who represents Middlesbrough's England winger Stewart Downing, insisted the audit could only be for the good of the game.

He said: 'If you have got nothing to hide, nothing to worry about, let them get on with it, let them investigate the deals.

'I can't see any problem with it. It's a good thing for everyone, the clubs, the agents, the players, everyone.

'At the end of the day, it can only help the honest agents who are doing nothing wrong.'

The audit will initially look at a sample of the deals which were completed last month in the Premier League and Football League, and then do the same during the summer transfer window.

It will have an entirely different focus to the investigation carried out by Quest under Lord Stevens between January 2004 and 2006.

Lord Stevens' report detailed 17 transfers, five Premier League clubs, two managers and 15 agents or third parties which he felt warranted further attention.

But the FA initiative will look at the effectiveness of the new regulations and their implementation and how that might be improved.

FA director of governance Jonathan Hall said: 'We are very pleased to have engaged Quest given their excellent credentials and experience.

'However, this transfer audit is a very different undertaking to their previous inquiry carried out for the Premier League.

'It will focus specifically on reviewing the FA's processes in respect of the new Agents' Regulations, assessing compliance with FA rules and identifying any areas of poor practice within the industry.'

Still, for one, believes there is room for improvement in the rules.

He said: 'While I am generally completely in favour of stringent regulations about how transfer deals should be done, I do find that some of the regulations the Football Association are now putting forward are impracticable.

'That is all going to be discussed at a conference next Tuesday in Birmingham where the agents will be responding to some of the new proposals.

'In some respects - in too many respects - the FA have gone way overboard in having done nothing for years and years and years, literally nothing, and now they are going to the other extreme and trying to do far too much.'

The FA have also set up a 'whistleblower' telephone hotline for anyone who has concerns over a transfer deal or other financial aspect of the game to report their misgivings. The hotline number is: 0844 980 8218.

A statement said: 'Both these new measures form part of the FA's enhanced regulatory capacity, including extra resource in the Financial Regulation department, upgraded database systems, an information hotline and tailor-made guidance notes based around the new Football Agents Regulations.'