BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Millwall were the second-lowest spenders on agent fees in the latest Championship figures released by the FA.
The Lions paid £383,594 to agents during the last two windows – only Rotherham (£154,653) accruing less costs.
To put that into context, more than £50million was spent in total in the division. Stoke City splashed £7.2m with Swansea (£5.5m), West Brom (£5.1m) and Derby (£4.2m) not far behind.
Millwall chief executive Steve Kavanagh said: “Stoke have spent over £7m on agents’ fees which I believe is higher than one club’s yearly wagebill in this division, or pretty damn close to it.
“That tells you the vast void of financial standing in the league and the difficulties there are for teams just coming up and ones trying to establish themselves.
“There are clubs with wagebills of £60m, so even if there agency fees are only a small percentage then it is still going to dwarf ours.
“That just shows you how hard it is to compete in the Championship – but we do.
“As a club we’re focused on driving commercial revenues and getting our attendances higher to allow us to continue to compete. That allows us to gradually increase the wagebill in a sustainable way and allows us to develop the club and move forward.
“There is a strong position in football clubs of wanting to get agency fees down. It is an easy area to spend and to waste money, whereas what we’ve tried to do is focus money on critical areas – like player wages.
“We are respectful of agents and work with agents, but at the same time we know the importance of wages and bringing those up. It’s a tough balancing act. We think we’re at the right end of the stick because the money you invest in your playing squad you want to be going to the players.”
Millwall did break their transfer record twice in the summer window, going over the seven-figure barrier when they signed Ryan Leonard from Sheffield United.
That deal formally became permanent in the January window, the ex-Southend man initially joining on loan.
The same format applied to Tom Bradshaw, snapped up from Barnsley in August.
Lions manager Neil Harris said: “I think it gives an indication of who spent what over the previous 12 months – who buys the players in and spends the money on wages.
“It doesn’t give a totally true reflection when you follow that chart because agents are paid over a period of time. However, it does give you a guideline of where wages are at.
“Credit goes to Rotherham and how well they have competed this season, how well they are doing.
“It highlights the challenge of the division and the enormity of the division.
“When you look at the transfer fees paid and the wages the players are earning in this league it shows how good the division is – it’s the fifth best-supported in the world and probably salary wise is the fifth-best in the world as well. That’s crazy.
“We want to fight to stay in it. Look at the crowd we had at the weekend and how good it was? The same at Leeds. It is a great league and we’ve got to make sure come May 5 that we’re the right side of the line to stay in it.”
OTHER PICTURES BY BRIAN TONKS