Sunderland owners fire stark warning to agents and vow to curb their power over the club

Sunderland's new regime have vowed to curb the power of influential agents on both incoming and outgoing transfers.

Wednesday, 23rd May 2018, 8:00 am

They have insisted, too, that they will not be forced to pay over the odds to sign the players they need to get out of League One at the first time of asking.

Margaret Byrne is now an agent with a number of Sunderland players on her books.

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That was despite spending just over £1 million in permanent transfer fees in the same period.

Aston Villa were the only side in the Championship to pay out more during that period, despite the Black Cats finishing rock bottom of the league, with the vast array of transactions in that 12 month period at the Stadium of Light bumping up Sunderland’s figure.

Charlie Methven, now a director at the club following Stewart Donald’s takeover, said he and Donald had only an initial idea of the business they will look to do this summer, but he was certain that the club’s relationship with agents would change.

“We have views and ideas, and we’re taking views from inside the club,” he said.

Charlie Methven and Stewart Donald meet the press.

“Until you’re in a position to have a meaningful conversation rather than an indicative one, you’re not really achieving anything.

“Stewart is absolutely right in saying that agents will say things and claim things that aren’t necessarily what a player will say when they are sat opposite with you.

“But until this point we haven’t been able to sit down with a player. We’ve had agents contact us before we even became owners saying players want to leave, well I’d rather hear that from a player and then we’ll deal with an agent.

“Agents have played far too big a role in this club, some of the payments have been eye-watering and really not on, I would say.

“It’s a nature of things when you’ve got an absentee owner, there’s been countless occasions of people not treating the club’s money properly.”

Both Methven and Donald have had involvement at League One level through Oxford United, and Methven says that knowledge will be crucial in ensuring that the club’s budget is not exploited this summer.

Donald said on Monday that he expected the club’s budget to be the biggest ever seen in the third tier.

Methven insisted, however, that Sunderland’s potential financial power would not lead to them paying excessive amounts.

He said: “We know what players should be earning at this level. We understand League One, the appropriate pay level at the top of that league.

“We’re certainly not very keen on the idea that there should be a premium to come and play for Sunderland.

“Maybe there should be a premium to play for some no-mark club but not to come here.

“People should want to come here for the academy, the crowd, to play alongside better players. There shouldn’t be a premium and that is the message that agents will be hearing loud and clear.”

Donald and Methven plan to speak to the current first team squad as quickly as possible to determine their appetite for the challenge ahead.

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