By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) – The 20 Premier League clubs splashed out a combined record 260 million pounds to agents last year, according to figures released on Thursday by the Football Association.
Title-challenging Liverpool topped the table with 43.7 million going to agents for the 12 months ending Jan. 31 — more than Manchester City and Manchester United combined.
Liverpool invested in new players before the start of the current season, spending about 177 million pounds on the likes of Roma keeper Alisson, Naby Keita from Leipzig, Fabinho from Monaco and Xherdan Shaqiri from Stoke City.
Chelsea were the second-highest spenders on agents fees with 26.8 million pounds paid out, followed by Manchester City’s 24 million. Cardiff’s 2.8 million was lowest of the 20 clubs.
Tottenham Hotspur spent 11 million pounds on intermediaries despite making no signings in the last two transfer windows.
Second-tier (Championship) clubs spent a combined 50 million pounds on agents fees.
The Premier League’s 20 shareholders are set to discuss new ways to reduce agents fees at a meeting on Friday — possibly ending the system whereby agents are paid by both the buying club and the player.
World governing body FIFA said last September it was considering proposals to reform the transfer system and restrict loans and agents’ fees.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond)