With it now widely reported that Barnsley have pulled out of a deal to sign Chesterfield striker Jamie Ward, you have to wonder why the player failed to agree personal terms.

In this respect, I don't blame the club for playing a cautious hand in structuring a package for a player who is untested at Championship level, regardless of the potential he has shown in the lower part of the football league.

Speculation always leads to the role of agents in the game in the brokering process.

Fact is, they are a part of football (the business) world-wide and considering the stakes for a professional footballer nowadays, they are an important aspect of the player's career. As for being a servant to football (the sport), this is not their role or their motivation.

As Jamie Ward's agent Gino Culbertson states on his website, "We are a managegment team who look to protect and safeguard the interest of our clients, not just for today, but also for the future, quite simply 'Our goal is to help our clients achieve theirs'. Our representation and negotiation skills are designed to ensure that our clients interests always come first and that we secure financial security and peace of mind for them and their families. Rewards have never been greater in today's game and it is so important to have dedicated, trustworthy representation and guidance to ensure that the 'pitfalls' and unwanted distractions in the modern game are avoided".

This in turn, makes representation a profitable business for any licensed sports management agency. To exist, they have to constantly seek the maximum return for the work that they carry out.

Back to Mr Culbertson, who in an article written in the Daily Mail in July 2007, was commenting on the League's bill for agents shooting up by £1m. In the article he is quoted as follows,

"The clubs who were promoted (to the Premier League) paid big for players, so in that sense it's a surprise. However, on the other hand I'm not surprised as clubs outside the Premier League don't have the money.

"It's difficult for agents due to the lack of money in the lower leagues. Hopefully the £90million the Football League have received from the Premier League (as a 'solidarity package') will help."

This must imply that terms at the top tier of the Football League, the Championship would offer commercial advantages to both a representative and his client.

Obviously many things need to be considered by all parties at the negotiating table. Allegedly one ex-Red previously transferred between Grimsby and Aston Villa earlier in his career received a signing-on fee in the region of £250,000.

So, as stated by the BBC, "Barnsley have pulled out of a deal to sign Chesterfield striker Jamie Ward after the player failed to agree personal terms".

Ward's agent has revealed that the Tykes did not meet his wage demands.

Gino Culbertson said: "Jamie had a figure in mind and unfortunately Barnsley couldn't match that figure.

"It's disappointing but we move on and it's business as usual."

If Jamie already knew what he wanted, why wasn't this revealed before today's meeting? Why was Mr Culbertson involved at all if the player was simply turning up to listen to Barnsley's response. We'll never know.
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Ian Wilkinson

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