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By ESPN Staff

Agent questions inquiry claims

Mel Stein has refuted Lord Stevens' claim eight leading agents did not co-operate with his inquiry into transfer irregularities.

According to Stevens, the Premier League clubs and their officials are clean, yet with 17 of 362 deals yet to be resolved, it is the agents who remain in the dock - and eight in particular.

Stein, acting chairman of the Association of Football Agents, was not particularly impressed with Stevens' findings after a nine- month investigation.

'Lord Stevens must like reading Shakespeare because this was much ado about nothing,' remarked Stein.

'He has shown the game is not corrupt, that obviously there are a few people in it who don't obey the rules, but generally speaking, nothing is as bad it was.'

Yet he was far from happy with one of Stevens' comments, adding: 'The one thing we do take exception to is that there hasn't been co-operation with some of the leading agents.

'All of the leading agents are represented on the board of the Association of Football Agents. Every single one has fully co-operated with Lord Stevens.

'This effective innuendo that has covered us all is unacceptable. He needs to say which agents didn't co-operate.

'I've no idea who they are. They are probably running for cover, but they are not ours.'

Stein insists it is time the AFA were given a voice in the ongoing battle to prove the game is clean and that a bung culture does not exist.

'The other thing that really concerns me about this report is the indication that at the end of the day everything is all right because there are new agents' regulations in place and they are going to solve all the problems, but they are going to create problems. They are a nightmare,' added Stein on Sky Sports News.

'If Lord Stevens thinks that is the be-all and end-all then he is living in cloudcuckooland.

'It has been mooted, and I know all the agents would welcome it, that someone like Quest comes in and objectively administers payments and transfers.

'But they can't administer them against the background of the regulations that the FA want to bring in in May of 2007 because they are unadministerable.

'We would be happy to sit down with the Football League, Premier League, the FA, the PFA and Quest and start talking about how we structure the regulation and administration of this game.

'Let's talk about how fees are paid, how contracts work, the relationship between clubs, agents and players.

'But no-one is talking to us, and no-one is listening to us.'

Phil Smith, director of the First Artist Corporation, feels it is 'an absolute necessity' the FA agree to the recommendation in Stevens' report of an independent body to audit transfers.

The former Metropolitan Police Commissioner feels it is imperative 'an independent forensic financial unit' is established that will ensure all future transfers are conducted correctly.

Smith said: 'It's an absolute necessity the FA do this.

'The FA cannot cope. It's all very well (chief executive) Brian Barwick increasing the numbers of staff on the compliance unit, but they haven't been able to handle matters.

'There's a lot of money going out of the country, not just out of the game because they are unable to complete checks on where it is all going.

'It's a matter of striking a balance of what's good for the game and what they can convincingly handle because obviously their area of expertise is regulating the game.

'But there's an absolute need to put this right, and I don't think they would lose face if they did.

'In fact, I feel they would gain respect if they did help put the right regulatory bodies in place.'