Monday, 2 December 2013

The Dirty Dozen - The Role Of Agents In The Criminalisation Of Football

How Agents Are Destroying Football

1. Many firms of agents have an interest in the global betting markets. Some firms specifically target goalkeepers, for example. A very high percentage of the sixty plus betting scandals to be currently under investigation feature agents as facilitators due to the way in which agents seemlessly lubricate the system.

2. Betting interest soon morphs into market control. preferably in-house otherwise in a fragmented cartel. There are a variety of tipping points where the critical mass of the control of a match corruption is reached. Matches are fixed via participants on behalf of their agents. Agents target both club and international matches.

3. Player loyalty to club is increasingly a rare factor in football nowadays. Players have an agent for life (pre to post career) and any number of clubs. Badge-kissing is simply marketing the brand of the self. Clubs that employ several players from the same firm of agents or from a web-like cartel of agents risk losing control of their matches although some of the better run clubs limit such exposure as a matter of strategy e.g. FC Bayern, Milan, Barcelona and Blackpool.

4. Once control of a very liquid betting market becomes the focus of agents/ cartel of agents' attention then control of those lily-livered reprobates, the referees, becomes the primary strategy. At the poker table of postmodern football, one goalkeeper + the referee is a very strong hand indeed. Referees are underpaid outliers with football envy - psychologically many referees are desperate for 'acceptance' within the game. Media silence and retirement hush money aid any shenanigans.

5. Once an agent/ cartel is seen to be influencing market outcomes, market makers and bookmakers enter stage right. Hence surface level criminalised trading migrates to the European and Asian underworlds, undergrounds and offshore financial centres. It is not surprising that a £1 trillion annual market attracts such intricate infrastructures.

6. Agents bleed the game of money that should be going to grass roots projects. For the year ending September 2013, agents took virtually £100 million from the Premier League (over £2.5 million for every round of games).This was a 25% increase and elicited no mainstream media attention in a week where the words 'agents' and 'match-fixing' kept appearing in the same sentences.

7. Due to loyalty to self/ agent rather than club, a perverse incentive means many players will perform fully only when playing in live tv matches with massively increased global exposure. Similarly, 'injuries' and choice of timing for operations etc are determined by agent not by the club.

8. Agents always boast about the black market sides of their job - the under-the-table illicit payments to drop interests in a player, the insider gamble that the bookies couldn't stop. Agents take far more than £100 million out of the English game in the grey and black market sectors.

9. Agents undertake mainstream media control for the promotion of their clients, the suppression of inappropriate news and reality leakages, the advancement of transfer strategies and, in the case of the Guardian, the 'creation' of an entirely fictitious neohyperreality in the form of the Secret Footballer. How apt that, with editorial involvement, a newspaper that robbed the secrets from Wikileaks and Snowden should create their very own imaginary secrets via a fake entity linked to a leading football agent!

10. There is no regulation of agents. Consequently, all agents eventually, if not initially, become linked to mafia - this is the only evolution feasible in Friedmanian capitalism in a sector that is entirely non-regulated. Market Maturity = Monopolistic Mafia. Although agents police themselves, a whole variety of mafia groups police the agents.

11. Third Party Agreements are not only still the norm but Fourth and Fifth Party ones exist too. Self-regulation means, in effect, no regulation as agents create the necessary infrastructure to allow them to optimise their operations.

12. Top agents have links to government in Britain (both Labour and Tory). Bizarrely, agents and (the limited) control of a hugely liquid global financial market that they bring are one of the few hyperreal growth areas in our austerity-wrecked post-imperial wasteland of a fake-service economy. Of course, government cannot boast this economic success story: "our match-fixing and market distortions are bringing jobs to Britain..."

When a former player-turned-agent Delroy Facey was named as a key operator in Invisiblegate - the English match-fixing scandal which allegedly happened last week - we expected an imminent media blackout, a separation of the Premier League from any allegations of match-fixing and a markedly legitimate weekend in the Premier League. And that is what we got. It was just like the old days. No sendings off and just one penalty (to Manchester United, of course). No controversy. We cannot find any other weekend in our databases with so little referee influence. What a remarkable fluke!

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