A whistleblower is an informant who exposes illicit activity within an organisation in the hope of stopping it with little support from the law.
So should we look upon sporting agent Peter Harrison’s revelations of what really goes on behind the scenes in big transfer deals as admirable?
I’m not so sure. Of course the media love a whistleblower especially involving such a high profile sport such as professional football unearthing all the seedy goings on but the most significant motivation behind this exposure of the dark side of the business appears to have resulted from Harrison being upstaged by another agent Mark Curtis involving former client Andy Carroll’s record move from Newcastle to Liverpool.
Harrison has a mark against his name since the FA arbitration panel that came up against him over the £35million transfer of Andy Carroll to Liverpool. The tribunal ruled in favour of Mark Curtis who is now Carroll’s new agent which has been responsible for tipping Harrison over the edge.
An informant such as Harrison could be seen as a hero, braving the backlash of his former clientele and isolating himself from the business that brought him so much wealth. However, even if Harrison has had an attack of the conscience, it seems as though it only really comes as a consequence of perhaps losing his touch.
Andy Carroll became one of Harrison’s most high profile clients to date and his record transfer to Liverpool would have guaranteed Harrison a decent retirement plan had it not been for Liverpool employing Curtis to come in and seal the deal instead. With Harrison’s background and successful history in the game, this could have tipped him over the edge and explain why he’s seeking revenge against the hand that once fed him.
As you can see, I will by no means be glamourising the name of Harrison here neither will this article be placing the man on a pedestal of honour and truth. His revelations of the agent underworld may be suggesting that there are some selfish and greed driven agents out there who must be stopped but it really highlights the fact Harrison has spent 20 years stitching up people and consequently the treatment has gone full circle.
Does he deserve forgiveness for now deciding enough is enough? Had the Andy Carroll transfer been more successful for him, things could be very different for Harrison, he may have simply continued until the next time. Harrison was and is still as dodgy as the next agent and will hardly been chomping at the bit to return any of the millions he has earnt form bungs and fees. This individual should be investigated thoroughly before we take his word.
‘I’m doing this in the interests of the game – people take their kids to matches, they buy the shirts, the season tickets and the TV subscription.”
Such worthy words from a defeated Harrison. The former agent never thought about revealing all of this when representing stars such as Andy Carroll, Eidur Gudjohnsen, Jussi Jaaskelainen, Rivaldo and many more top Premier League players who are yet to be revealed.
And why should he? The man was raking it in earning at one stage £900,000 for a day’s work, brokering the transfer of a leading Barclays Premier League player. The stars were simply queuing up in their droves for Harrison’s services because they knew they could command bigger wages, more lucrative sponsorship deals and all the media attention that they think they deserve. Harrison was just providing a service everybody knew they could benefit from, clubs included.
It’s also very obvious that the football loving public is not naive to all this underworld activity. Never have I come across someone who doesn’t suspect foul play in our beautiful game with managers excepting bungs and agents earning as much as the players, if not more.
That’s not to say that we the public accept it as a given factor of the profession but it is becoming increasingly more like a fantasy league than real football, yet there is little the fans can do about it. Billionaires buying into the club left right and centre only fuels the money hat controls our game.
And if you think Premiership managers are innocent in all of this, you would be wrong. Harrison was quoted by saying,
‘If you look at the deals certain clubs do at the top, it’s the same agents doing them. There have been a lot of complaints about that club but the FA do nothing.
There are a few managers who are close to agents, they do the same deals, and let’s be honest it’s not because that agent can spot a player.”
Harrison knows these teams would not be where they are if these agents, personally requested by the managers, hadn’t worked their magic in sealing financially lucrative deals for the clubs. And tapping up players is almost a regular occurrence in order to secure the players signature.
Apparently Harrison has been threatened by “underworld characters” for exposing football’s dark side. It almost sounds like a script from a Hollywood movie and to be quite honest, I can absolutely believe it is all true given what our Premiership has become.
Players tapped up, sweeteners offered to young players and parents alike and considerable payments made to ensure the deal is completed at all costs is just a small collection of the tactics used to sway player contracts. Although Harrison claims this is happening right under the FA’s nose, he suggests they’ve turned a blind eye.
He also argues that the have a significant hand in the matter too because they have sweat blood and tears to open as many doors of opportunity for their beloved and talented child as they possibly can. They then feel they are owed for all their hard work even demanding payments up front to seal the deals. And why not? But can these agents really be getting away with it so easily?
“There are a few agents getting away with murder. They break the rules time and again. Paul Stretford was fined a substantial amount of money and banned – how can he be the only one?‘
Harrison has revealed that his documentary will uncover underhand tactics used by top Premiership clubs such as West Ham who he claims paid him £900,000 in commission to sign Lucas Neill. Harrison sensationally highjacked Neill’s move to Liverpool to land the commission and admits it was all to make his financial life better. He had bills to pay.
Harrison is reeling from Panorama exposing him as a corrupt agent a few years back, which had a detrimental effect upon his business,
“’When Panorama happened it soured my relationship with people. I made a lot of money – millions – and lost a lot because of bad business decisions…’I’ve been told by other agents and people connected to football that managers have been told not to work with me”.
Harrison now believes that the FA are fully aware of the underhand business going on around them but they won’t rock the boat in terms of approaching clubs such as Liverpool, Newcastle or West Ham and he also claims he has complained to the FA many times about fellow agents with no evidence yet of any further action.
Harrison will certainly land himself some publicity and will have to take some very demanding questions at some stage over his accusations. Will he eventually change the game for the better or will he force the dirty rotten agents further underground? And has criminal activity really got that deep into our game that it may never be rectified?