Sunday, January 22, 2006
'We have nothing to hide', insist Man Utd
Chief executive David Gill insists Manchester United have no reason to be embarrassed about revealing they paid £2.2million to agents last year.
The figure will be confirmed when United announce a 20% reduction in profits
to £46million tomorrow.
Even though the Red Devils are no longer under any obligation to publicise
such details following Malcolm Glazer's £790million takeover, Gill decided to
release the figures in an effort to maintain the transparency of the previous
Of the cash paid out, £1.5million went to Paul Stretford's Proactive group as
the second - and final instalment - for their handling of Wayne Rooney's
£27million transfer from Everton in 2004.
Another £300,000 went to Edwin van der Sar's advisor following the Dutch
goalkeeper's £2million summer move from Fulham.
Although there is no suggestion of wrong-doing in any of Manchester United's
transactions, the mind-boggling figures come at a time when the work of agents
is under close scrutiny following high-profile bung allegations from Mike Newell
and Ian Holloway, plus Sven-Goran Eriksson's contention that the Premiership is
'riddled with corruption'.
But Gill insists United's payments are only in line with those of their major
rivals and believes it would be to everyone's benefit if the rest of the
Premiership followed his own club's lead.
'These payments are not unusual and we are not embarrassed by the figures,'
Gill told BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek programme.
'We have nothing to hide. We are transparent and publish our figures when no
other Premier League club does, so I do not see why we should be castigated or
hauled over the coals for it.
'As a club we believe the whole regulatory system would benefit from
universal publication and it would help debunk some of the myths around agents
at the moment.'
Although United were only forced into releasing payments paid to agents by
former major shareholders John Magnier and JP McManus, it has proved the
catalyst for the Football League to publish similar figures for all their member
The Premier League has so far opted not to follow suit, so no-one knows
exactly how much the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool have paid to agents
in recent years, although they are likely to be similar to those that will be
produced by the Old Trafford outfit tomorrow.
'These sums represent the market place we operate in and the costs which have
to be incurred to secure top talent,' said Gill.
'The agent provides a service. The issue is who pays for it, the player or
the acquiring club.
'But either way, it is not a zero-sum game. In the case of Wayne Rooney, if
he had to pay his agent, he would just demand a higher salary. The money has to
come from somewhere.
'As far as Wayne is concerned, the £1.5million is split between £1million for
negotiating the transfer and £500,000 in relation to his contract. We
highlighted this payment last summer and there will be no further fees over the
duration of what is a six-year contract.'
Tomorrow's announcement represents the first profit figures released during
the Glazer era, although the 11-month period to June 2005 only covers three
months of the American's time in control.
Gill blames a drop in revenues from both the Premier League and the Champions
League for the fall in profits and although he expects a small rise over the
next 12 months, United's failure to extend their stay in Europe beyond Christmas
for the first time in a decade will restrict potential for growth.
However, from 2007 onwards, when revenues from the 8,000-seat stadium
expansion start to roll into the club and a hoped for increase in shirt
sponsorship following the termination of Vodafone's current deal, Gill believes
the picture is decidedly rosy.
And although the club did spend £6.6million in banking and legal fees during
Glazer's controversial bid for the club, Gill is confident the United empire is
now moving far more smoothly.
'We are still the most profitable club in the world,' he said.
'There will be a knock-on effect from our disappointing performance in the
Champions League this year but from 2007 onwards, the situation is looking very
'Reading from the outside, it all looks doom and gloom but that is not the
situation on the inside.
'At this time last year, we were caught up in a whirl of speculation which
was not good for the business.
'Now the situation has been clarified we have a much more stable environment
to work in and longer-term perspective to our work.'