Last updated : 30 January 2004 By Editor
‘Manager A wants to buy Player B. Now there is absolutely no
question Player B wants to join Manager A's club, since he
has given 49 interviews declaring he would walk over hot
coals to do so. But, to be on the safe side, Manager A
decides he needs to employ an agent WHO JUST HAPPENS TO BE

‘After taking this leap of faith, Manager A then hands the
agent a gigantic cheque as a reward for all his hard work
and secrecy, thanks, in part, to the use of his undercover
codename - 'Son'. This practice is known as "keeping it in
the family".

‘Obviously the scenario I have described is just supposition
and fantasy. It would be a deplorable state of affairs if
any manager was actually found to have abused the transfer
process in such an insidious manner. As we all know, such
behaviour would be frowned upon by the bodies who regulate
these matters, particularly in the case of any club listed
on the Stock Exchange.

‘But it doesn't have to be that way. Let's look at a list of
managers and soccer supremos who, I'm sure, act quite
properly despite the co-incidental presence of their
offspring in the shark-infested pool of football transfers.
There are many notable names on the list. For starters, Sir
Alex Ferguson's son Jason works for Elite, an agency which
was involved in the transfer of Jaap Stam to Lazio and
goalkeeper Tim Howard to United.

‘Obviously, the fact that a manager's son also works for an
agency which is buying and selling players for the club
might count as an advantage, or, then again, it might not.
We will wait to see what the FA discover during their
investigation into the Howard deal. Over at Arsenal, we find
another strange quirk of fate involving an influential
football figure and his son.

‘David Dein, the vice-chairman, could be diplomatically
described as having a testy relationship with agents in the
past, particularly when Nicolas Anelka was worming his way
out of Highbury. But Dein should have no qualms about
dealing with the Sports Entertainment and Media agency where
his son Darren works, a company which also has Thierry
Henry, Patrick Vieira and other past and present Arsenal
players on their client list such as Francis Jeffers and
David Seaman. Handy that.

‘Bolton Wanderers boss Sam Allardyce must also be re-assured
by the expertise brought to transfer negotiations by his son
Craig, who works for an agency called Sports Player
Management. Yes, there was a little bit of controversy back
in September when FIFA announced they would investigate
claims Allardyce Jnr told Jay-Jay Okocha his transfer to
Bolton wouldn't go through without the involvement of his
firm, but, hey, it was denied. Nothing came of that and the
reputation of everyone involved remains intact.

‘Then there's Newcastle United chairman Freddy Shepherd. His
son clawed his way up the greasy pole of success to find
employment with the ProActive Sports Agency. Well done Kenny
Shepherd. The same goes to Jamie Hart, the agent son of
Nottingham Forest manager Paul Hart. And to another Jamie,
this time the son of Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock,
who works for the HN Sports agency.

‘I realise every profession has an old boy's network and web
of family ties. A network of contacts and nudge-nudge, wink-
wink recommendations can open doors in many walks of life.
The field of journalism is certainly no stranger to this
phenomenon. But transfer deals are often murky, financial
puzzles where enormous sums of money are moved from bank
account to bank account across national borders with little
or no transparency.’