"If you do a lot of deals – and overall something like 35 were included – given the expenditure and the turnover of players involved, you would expect a figure like that. There is a role that has to be met and, at the moment, agents fill it."
"Do they provide value for money? You have to base every deal on its merits. Sometimes you feel the agent has really done his job, on others you feel he is getting money for nothing. At times they can muddy the waters. Some deals can seem quite straightforward and then they become complicated at the end. On other occasions the deal goes through very quickly."
There was an automatic assumption that the figure we paid (which put us at the top of the list) was inflated as a result of the big money moves that saw the likes of Robinho, Adebayor, Lescott and Tevez arrive.
Whilst clubs have to release details of the overall amount paid out to agents, there is no requirement to disclose the amounts paid for each individual transfer. Given these further comments from Hughes, it may not necessarily have been the case that they were all on his watch:
"Agents want to work with us – I wonder why," he pondered. "We do a lot of the work that in the past agents have been able to bring to a club in terms of recommending players. Some agents will tell you they have the best player in the world. Now we can make that judgment ourselves because we have seen him 10 times. That has not always been the case.
"Without doubt I would say we are in a better place than we were 12 months ago."
I don't doubt that the Robinho and Tevez transfers resulted in a hefty payments, but given that the club confirmed that some of the payments stemmed from deals made prior to the reporting period (1 October 2008-30 September 2009), an interesting question would be how much of this was as a result of the deals that Sven made during the summer of 2008.
We know that he hastily assembled a side after taking over, with virtually a new side (in terms of numbers) being brought in. These deals were reportedly done having used his contacts in the game (the name of Pini Zahavi often seemed to loom large), and we also now know that the transfer fees paid were largely done on a staggered basis with further payments kicking in during the summer of 2009.
The club, as we are not a listed company, do not have to publish annual accounts (unless I am mistaken) so there is no requirement to ever disclose details of individual transfers. As I mentioned yesterday, whilst it is an important step that clubs now have to disclose details, exactly how much was paid out for what, and maybe more importantly, to whom.
One for David Conn perhaps.