Robins join renegades taking stand against agents

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Town fan Nick Judd hails the League 1 clubs refusing to fill Mr 10 Percent's pockets...

Swindon Town are among a growing number of League 1 clubs taking a stand against the football agent, if recent transactions revealed by the Football League are anything to go by.

The Robins – or the ‘best in the west’ if you believe our matchday announcer, slightly misleading given current league positions – were one of 10 League 1 clubs not to pay agents fees between July 1 and December 31 in 2008.

In our division there were 542 player transactions, just 35 of which involved paying a 'Mr 10 percent'. Proof that money doesn’t always buy you happiness…

Leeds: Big spenders off the pitch, inconsistent on it

Leeds spent more than £300,000, yet their play-off aspirations continue to splutter like an old banger. Leicester – easily the division’s best side – in contrast, spent a tenth of last season’s outlay.

Others more frugal with the purse strings have the edge on clubs such as Bristol Rovers and Southend United, who both spent more than £30,000, while Brighton & Hove Albion are staring down the barrel of relegation after spending the same amount.

But it's thumbs up to Cheltenham, Crewe, Hartlepool, Hereford, Millwall, Northampton, Peterborough, Scunthorpe, Swindon and Tranmere, I say.

Take a stand. Big, high-profile clubs might be able to spend hundreds of thousands on agents’ fees, but small ones like ours can’t afford such profligacy. Not in the current climate when things are tight.

Swindon’s balance sheet wasn’t helped by the bad weather and the subsequent spate of postponements, while rumour has it at least one League 1 side is set to go into administration before the end of March. The need to scrimp and save has never been so acute.

Lost gate revenue hit Robins bank balance hard

Who needs agents at this level anyway?

The vast majority of the players Swindon ‘buy’ are either out of contract, on loan or from lower league clubs. It doesn’t take a third party to negotiate deals when players are ready to snap your hand off.

The other side of the coin, some would argue, is that by refusing to pay agents’ fees we’re distancing ourselves from the top end of the market and the percentage of players who still use third parties to negotiate moves.

Town have been down this road before – take a look at last year’s figures and you’ll see the previous incumbents spent more than £60,000 on agent fees – and our current status on and off the pitch is testament that spending large amounts doesn’t always work.

Scunny: Promotion-hopefuls without spending a penny (on agents)

Yet from the long list of players we were linked with in January, most of them opted for clubs I consider no bigger than our own. Coincidence? Or simply a refusal on the agents’ behalf to continue negotiating with a club he/she knows won’t pay his/her 10 percent?

In the end, we signed two lads on loan. Gordon Greer’s capture proves that the loan market can be lucrative, while I doubt Millwall are worrying about how little they’ve spent compared to their promotion rivals, especially if James Henry – a loan capture from R*ading – continues to score contenders for goal of the season like this.

Granted, Swindon will need to show more ambition if we’re to fulfil Andrew Fitton’s ‘three-year’ plan and earn promotion to the Championship. But for now it’s all about survival, on and off the pitch.

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