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Volume 7 No. 149

International Football

Mino Raiola received a reported £41M in fees for facilitating Paul Pogba's transfer to ManU.
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The Premier League’s top footballers "could soon be forced to pay their own agents -- rather than rely on their clubs to pay them" -- in what are set to be the "most radical changes to the way football agents work in England," according to SKY SPORTS. League execs will meet on Thursday to "consider changing the onus of responsibility for payment from clubs to players." While the move "is likely to prompt demands for higher player wages," the clubs believe the move will curb the spiraling fees that some representatives are demanding. Last year, football intermediaries earned more than £220M in fees paid by clubs in England and Wales. If the changes are adopted, deals like Paul Pogba's move from Juventus to ManU -- for which "super agent" Mino Raiola pocketed a reported £41M in fees from both clubs -- would involve Pogba paying his agent, rather than the clubs. A Premier League working group "has consulted a number of top employment lawyers in the hope their plans will survive the expected legal challenges they will face" when reducing an intermediary's earning potential. Thursday's meeting will decide whether to adopt the series of "radical proposals" or to work alongside FIFA, which is also considering changes to the present system (SKY SPORTS, 9/12).

Newham Council said that West Ham drew an average of 12,530 fans fewer than it announced.
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Last season, Arsenal was "under scrutiny as supporters appeared to stay away from Emirates Stadium" during then-Manager Arsène Wenger's final season, according to Alistair Magowan of the BBC. Even pundits "joked about the club's official near-capacity attendance compared with the gaps clearly visible in the stadium." But Arsenal is not the only Premier League club whose "official attendances appeared inaccurate." BBC Sport sent Freedom of Information requests to the relevant police forces and local councils for all 20 Premier League teams, "asking whether they had figures for the actual number of people in the stadium for each game last season." Most said that they "did not hold that information," directing the BBC to figures published by the clubs. Eight responses, relating to seven clubs, were received. At six of those clubs, "police and/or council figures differed from the official published attendances." Although the figures "only covered games which the authorities attended, some of the results were revealing:"

  • West Ham: Newham Council said that the average attendance at West Ham was 42,779 based on the 12 games it attended -- which is 12,530 fans fewer than the club's season average figure of 55,309.
  • Man City: Greater Manchester Police's average figures "were 7,482 lower than club figures, again based on 12 games." 
  • Southampton: Hampshire Police figures were an average of 4,246 fans lower than figures issued by the club.
  • Tottenham: Brent Council said that crowds at Wembley Stadium "were on average 3,740 less than the club's stated numbers."
  • Chelsea: Hammersmith & Fulham Council said that its average was 3,505 fans lower than club numbers, based on six games.
  • Watford: Hertfordshire Police said that its average "was 2,602 fans fewer than club figures, based on four games."
  • ManU: Trafford Council and Greater Manchester Police both said that ManU's published attendance figures "matched its own, based on 12 games."

Most teams in the Premier League choose to publicize "the number of tickets sold for a game rather than the number of people actually in the stadium." That means they include season ticket holders who do not attend and complimentary tickets that are not used (BBC, 9/12).

FIFA President Gianni Infantino and Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) President Luis Rubiales on Wednesday met with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, according to Álvarez & Cué of EL PAÍS. During the meeting, they proposed that Spain bid to host Euro 2028 or the 2030 World Cup. If Spain were to opt for the 2030 World Cup, this would "fit in with the traditional continental rotation of the locations for the tournament." The last two major football events organized by Spain were the 1964 European Championships and the 1982 World Cup. The "last time that Spain opted to host a World Cup was in conjunction with Portugal," for the '18 tournament. Rubiales described the meeting with Sánchez as "cordial and productive" (EL PAÍS, 9/12).

NOT SO FAST: In Madrid, Gonzalo Cabeza reported the RFEF "was always suspicious" of the Barcelona-Girona match in Miami. Infantino, Rubiales and Sánchez "all believe the game is very problematic -- so much so that one of the organizations could prevent the match -- though a decision has not been made." FIFA, the RFEF and Spain's Ministry of Foreign Affairs "all have some measure of input." One reason for the opposition to holding the match in Miami "is the matchup between Barcelona and Girona," sources said. The game has "significant political connotations," and the idea of exporting this and attracting int'l attention "does not appeal to the Spanish government" (EL CONFIDENCIAL, 9/12).

Access to the Champions League for Scottish teams must be an "absolute pre-requisite" if a third European club competition is to begin, Scottish Premiership side Aberdeen CEO Duncan Fraser said. A third UEFA club tournament could be introduced alongside the Champions League and Europa League from '21. Fraser said that ring-fencing the top competition would be "opposed" by Scotland (BBC, 9/12).

Italy’s Serie B "will continue with the unusual number of 19 teams after appeals from a further six clubs" to be included were rejected by an arbitration tribunal on Tuesday. Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) Tribunal president Franco Frattini said that CONI "voted 3-2 not to allow any additions to the championship which started two weeks ago." Serie B "usually has 22 teams" but three of those that should have played this season "were barred for financial reasons" (REUTERS, 9/11).

English Football League clubs "will discuss the live streaming of matches" at a meeting on Sept. 20 following the "controversial decision to allow fans to watch Saturday 3pm games online for the first time." The EFL was "accused of misleading clubs" over the streaming of games last weekend after supporters were able to watch games online. There is "usually a blackout of live broadcasts" of matches between 2:45pm and 5:15pm on Saturdays in England and Scotland to "encourage attendances" (London EVENING STANDARD, 9/12).