Chris Coleman on Sunderland's big agent fee bill and why it's tough to turn around

Coleman admits he 'raised his eyebrows' at Sunderland's agent fees
Coleman admits he 'raised his eyebrows' at Sunderland's agent fees
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Chris Coleman admits that Sunderland's spending on agent fees left him raising his eyebrows.

Figures released by the FA this week showed that between February 2017 and January 31 2018, Sunderland paid £4,370,897 to registered intermediaries.

Aston Villa were the only Championship team to spend more.

Those numbers are at stark odds with the club's spending on transfer fees, with only five teams having a lower net spend than the Black Cats last summer.

The spending on agent fees has not been helped by the sheer volume of deals Sunderland's have had to complete, with almost 30 transactions going through in the aforementioned time frame.

For Coleman, it is another element of the complex legacy he is trying to untangle at the club.

He said: "Agents nowadays boss so much of our industry. They are integral to it.

"About 25-30 years ago, it was certain clubs and certain chairmen who didn't behave properly towards players, and that's why agents became involved – because they needed representation.

"Now there has been a complete turnaround where you see some of the things that happen, and some deals and some fees are astronomical.

"It's crazy because there is so much money involved in football.

"I know what our agents fees are and, yes, you raise your eyebrows – certainly at some of the deals that have been done and some of the product that we have paid for.

"We're not the only club, though. There are a lot of clubs who have had to fork out a lot of money on agents' fees.

"We are still paying agents fees for players who are not even here.

"That's where we are, unfortunately."

It will not any easier for Coleman this summer, with finances set to be tight but another squad overhaul clearly required.

The turnover of players has also had a visible impact on the pitch and while the prospect of a reboot excites the Black Cats boss, there is still much uncertainty to be settled before it can begin in earnest.

He said: "Because there’s been such mass change at the club, it is very difficult to establish a real togetherness, a bond that gets you through tough situations.

"When it is new all the time, 5 in January, who all have to go back to their parent club eventually, it can be tough to gel things together.

"Wherever we end up this season, if we pull off something special now or we don’t, at the very least we have to start again.

"This summer will be exciting in one way because we can start afresh, but it is frightening in another because we don't know who is going to own the club and what their plans are.

"Everything is up in the air, and the uncertainty is incredible.

"We are either going to be fighting from this league with the same owner and no money to spend, or the league below with the same owner and no money to spend, or with a new owner who will inject money and we can start again.

"At the moment, we have no idea which way it is going to fall."