Super agent Jonathan Barnett has warned football and the English game is heading for “disaster.”
And Barnett has predicted that the Premier League may never see another Roman Abramovich take over a Premier League club again.
Barnett, a co-founder of The Football Forum to look after the interests of players and agents, has spelt out his fears over:
Salary caps threatening to “dramatically” reduce the level in the Championship and put off would-be owners
Brexit stopping the best European stars coming into English football which will “damage” home grown players
FIFA rules on agents which he says could result in “years” of injunctions and legal battles
Barnett, whose 800-strong client list includes the likes of Gareth Bale and Jack Grealish, said: “The salary cap in the Championship would be an absolute disaster. No good young players will want to go to those clubs. It’s heading for doom.
“The standard will drop dramatically and I guarantee that if we didn’t have these spending rules, you would see big hitters buying Championship clubs.
“Abramovich has done a great job. When he came in, Chelsea were going broke, the league was struggling, he put money into Chelsea, gave money to other clubs and transformed the game and you could have the same in the Championship but for these rules.
“Abramovich was the best thing to ever happen to the Premier League, it’s now the best league in the world and yet it’s a terrible trait in England that we build things up to knock them down.”
Barnett also fears the worst on Brexit and says the impact on football was already felt in January when there was a record low spent on transfers.
“Brexit is the biggest threat to English football,” said Barnett. “Look at Wolves, they’ve been so successful and yet would they get in now? There’s players who could have saved West Brom but they can’t get work permits. I truly believe European players have helped British players so much.
“I remember when Patrick Vieira came into Arsenal, I was sitting with John Hartson who was my client while Vieira was sitting with some people and he ordered a salad and water. I’m not going to say what John had… I said: ‘Look at him…’ John said: ‘I know it’s disgusting – I’ll have a word!’
“I’m telling you – the young British players are the best of my lifetime and that’s because they’ve been brought up and learned from the best. If you reduce the standard, you damage other players.”
Barnett has teamed up with the likes of fellow super agents Mino Raiola and Jorge Mendes to try and combat FIFA’s attempts to bring in new regulations, targeting super agents and “dual representation” when the same agent acts for a player and a club in the same transfer.
Barnett, chairman of the Stellar Group, insists the best agents are worth their weight in gold and also the very nature of their work means they will always be looking after players and clubs.
“We are heading for a disaster with FIFA. In today’s age, we don’t want to go to war but it’s inevitable because of the rules and regulations they have come up with because they are unacceptable, unworkable and illegal,” said Barnett.
“We don’t need more regulations – that would be bureaucracy gone mad – but we need better regulations. That’s the difference.
“You have to come up with what’s best for the player and sometimes that is dual representation. What people often don’t understand is we get calls from clubs who say: ‘your player is doing X, Y and Z – can you talk to them?’ That’s acting for the club.
“Believe it or not, I’ve never held a gun to a player’s head. It’s also a question of running your club properly. If a club pays a player money they can’t afford then they’re idiots.”