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While the executives ranged in seniority and function, they were all club employees.

They shared a mutual frustration, bordering on antipathy, for another critical cog in the wheels of the soccer market: agents.“If you can progress talks with the two clubs then you’re in a stronger position than an agent trying to broker deals, getting in this, getting that,” said Tony Coton, head of recruitment at Sunderland, a third-tier English team that was previously in the Premier League but was demoted twice.“Here I will hear it from the horse’s mouth now,” he continued, “exactly how much the player’s earning at that club and I can say, ‘Yes we can go to that,’ or ‘No we can’t go to that,’ without the agent getting involved because invariably the agent will inflate what he’s on to try and increase his wages and for a loan I don’t think that’s right.”Coton, a former goalkeeper for Manchester City, was in town like Harford to pick up a few loan players and to try to find buyers for two players from Sunderland’s Premier League days whose wages the club can no longer afford to finance.

Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.”A short while later, the bell sounded and Ashworth jumped to his feet. To be sure, this is not the place where Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi will move from one club to another, but rather where useful, reasonably priced players change teams.The most expensive player on Ankersen’s platform is valued at around £20 million, or roughly million, he said.“That’s just a little bit out of our price range,” said Mick Harford, the director of football at Luton Town, a team from just outside London that was promoted last season to the second tier Championship division.Club-to-club meetings on a global scale like the one held in London remain uncommon.The scarcity is related to the baked-in paranoia of the soccer world, where clubs eye rivals’ motivations with great suspicion.“If you stick a for sale sign up, you can weaken your stance in the market,” said Dan Ashworth, director of football at Brighton, a small club that will compete in the Premier League for the third straight season.

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