City chief defends spending

City chief executive Neil Doncaster today admitted that paying agents' fees in transfer deals was “a fact of life” - and insisted the club did not pay a penny more than necessary.

City chief executive Neil Doncaster today admitted that paying agents' fees in transfer deals was “a fact of life” - and insisted the club did not pay a penny more than necessary.

The latest Football League agents' fees report, issued last week, showed that the Canaries committed �490,000 to agents between July and December 2008.

Derby County were the only Championship club to spend more on agents in the first half of this season, shelling out �717,000.

But Doncaster said most of City's outlay related to just three deals of an unusual nature, making the latest figure a “slight blip”.

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He said: “Over the six months covered by the report, we agreed 21 separate player transactions - 14 new registrations or transfers, one updated contract, and six loans. And of those 21 separate deals, the majority had no agents' fees involved at all.

“The vast majority of the �490,000 that we spent on agents' fees was incurred in relation to just three players - Sammy Clingan, Arturo Lupoli and Wes Hoolahan. Sammy was a Bosman free transfer, Arturo was on a season-long loan from Fiorentina and Wes had a complicated buy-out clause in his contract with Blackpool.

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“In the case of Sammy and Arturo, no sums whatever were paid to their previous clubs. And in the case of Wes, we did pay a transfer fee to Blackpool - but one much lower than Wes' open market value if he had not had the buy-out clause in his contract. And that, simply, explains why agents were able to charge significant sums for those deals.”

Doncaster said there was no question of City wasting money.

He said: “Every deal is different. Some have high wages and high agents' fees - but lower (or no) transfer fees. Other deals are the other way round. In any event, it is not fair to accuse us of wasting money on agents' fees. We pay only what we need to pay to attract a particular player to Carrow Road - and not a penny more.

“What is more relevant is the total financial commitment that we are making to an individual player - not how it breaks down between salary, transfer fee and agents' fees. And if, as a club, we choose on principle not to pay agents' fees, then we are choosing not to be able to sign the likes of Sammy Clingan and Wes Hoolahan in the future.

“Unfortunately, we cannot have it both ways. Either we try to compete as aggressively as we can afford, or we attempt to save cash by avoiding the expenses of deals involving potentially high agents' fees - that is the stark choice.”

Doncaster also insisted Norwich's outlay on agents in recent seasons was in line with other Championship clubs.

He said: “Norwich City's payments to agents are, over the past three seasons, broadly in line with what a club of our standing would expect to pay. The slight blip last summer was because of the slightly unusual nature of the Hoolahan, Lupoli and Clingan deals.

“Sadly, there is no such thing as a free lunch. None of us want to pay agents' fees. But they remain a fact of life, like the taxman, the common cold and traffic wardens. None is particularly popular - but they exist nonetheless. To opt out of paying agents' fees is, simply, to opt out of attracting the players we want to Carrow Road.”

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