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By ESPN Staff
Feb 16, 2007

Agent in shock defence of role in football

Football agent Darryl Powell has rejected Gary Neville's suggestions that there are 'not many' good agents in the game.

Neville launched a stinging attack on the profession yesterday, claiming that players did not need agents and should work together to edge them out of the game.

But Powell, a former Derby, Birmingham and Sheffield Wednesday player who went to the 1998 World Cup with Jamaica, has questioned Neville's credentials to speak about the issue.

He told Sky Sports News: 'Gary hasn't got a clue. He is a very good football player but he has been at Manchester United from the age of 10 or 11 and he's never moved.

'In terms of agency, he doesn't know what it entails. The guys [I have worked with] have been happy with the moves, the clubs have been happy and the former clubs have got paid.

'Be it houses, commercial property or stock dealing, there's always a middle man. Football is a business.'

Powell admitted that there were some agents who sullied the reputation of others, but insisted it is not a problem that is isolated to football.

'There are bad agents but there aren't as many as Gary is making out and they're not making as much money as Gary is making out.'

Neville had earlier been unequivocal in his views. He said: 'I'd like to see the removal of agents from the game - make players not so reliant on them.'

Asked if there were any good agents, he said: 'I don't know many. There is a concern for me, and it always has been.

'Our guy can go in [to a deal] and expect to be giving hundreds of thousands or, in this day and age, even millions [to an agent] - and that money is going out of the game.

'The clubs should keep that money - or, if they're earning it, the players.'

Like Powell, Mel Stein was quick to respond on behalf of agents. He told Sky Sports News: 'It's a free country, with freedom of choice. If a club are willing to pay an agent on behalf of a player why should they not pay it?

'There are a lot of good agents in the game who put money back into it. Agents source young talent, not on the pitch but off it. They provide a professional service.'

Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the PFA, shares some of Neville's concerns, and questioned the work done by agents with players who failed to make a success of their football career.

He continued: 'I worry they trawl their nets too wide sometimes for youngsters in the hope they can pick one up - and then don't give enough care. Of the 600 youngsters who enter the game at 16, five out of six will be out of it by the time they are 21.

'So I'll be interested to see how many agents help young players to get through university, or job re-training, or look after their operations in later years.'