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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 February 2006, 17:14 GMT
Crewe make historic agent payment
By John Sinnott

Madjid Bougherra (c)
Algerian international Bougherra impressed Crewe during a trial
Crewe have paid an agent for the first time in the club's history.

A 5,000 fee was paid to agent Charles Collymore, who recommended Algerian defender Madjid Bougherra to Crewe.

Last week the 23-year-old centre-half joined Crewe from French Second Division club FC Gueugnon, signing a contract for the rest of the season.

Crewe chairman John Bowler told BBC Sport: "Yes, it's the first time we've paid an agent - we were using the agent as a scout for us."

Last month Luton Town manager Mike Newell sparked a furore in the game after he said he had been offered cash by agents and club officials in exchange for selling players.

Crewe are the only club in the top two divisions of English football who have adopted a specific policy of not paying agents in transfer negotiations.

There have been a number of players who haven't come to us because the other club was prepared to pay the agent
Crewe chairman

According to the Football League, between July and December 2005 Leeds paid out 576,800 to agents, the largest sum for any Championship club.

"Our belief is that in almost all cases in domestic transfers the agent is acting on behalf of the player, in a way like a solicitor," said Bowler.

"We believe that if player chooses to be represented in a transfer by an agent then that should be a cost to the player. If a player chooses to use an agent then that is his business."

In signing Bougherra, Crewe decided to use an agent to find a defender from overseas because they had been unable to find a suitable central defender in England.

"We have had to widen our net to find players," said Bowler.

"While we have extensive contacts and knowledge of players domestically hat's not the case overseas.

"On the odd occasion where an agent acts in an overseas capacity for us then we are prepared to recognise that as a legitimate business expense."

Bowler was unable to estimate how many players Crewe have been unable to sign over their policy of not paying agents.

"There have been a number of players who haven't come to us because another club was prepared to pay the agent.

"It has also been hinted to us we would find it difficult to get players because it was in the agent's interest for their player to go to another club.

"And who knows how many agents have not even come our way with a player because we weren't prepared to pay them?"

But rather than the problem of dealing with agents Bowler believes it is Crewe's wage policy that is a more of a deterrent to players joining the club.

"Every time we travel away from home we're playing clubs whose gates are three times the size of Crewe's home attendance.

"And that means those clubs are paying wages two or three times in excess of what we are paying in salaries.

"That means we have had to do things differently, investing in youth development rather than trading in the transfer market."

Crewe might do things differently from other clubs, but there is method in their strategy, with the club's financial sheet in a very healthy position.

"Our annual losses are 500,000 a year," Bowler. "That means we have to sell a player for 1m every two years.

"We've just calculated that over the last 18 years we have brought in over 20m in selling players.

"We're well in the black and at the moment we wouldn't have to sell a player for another three years."

Bottom of the Championship and 10 points from fourth-from-bottom Leicester, Crewe are likely to be playing League One football next season, but Bowler remains proud of the club's ability to punch above their weight.

"On our gates we should be a mid-table League One club, but our ambition is to be a Championship team.

"And for the last nine years, apart from one season, we have been a Championship club."


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