Hearn told Sky Sports News that steps must be taken otherwise the financial outlook is bleak for hard-up clubs.

“It seems to be the way that football is moving now,” said Hearn. “Every young player has got an agent, these agents want to make money; they have a certain amount of power, sometimes too much power and we are left with no choice.

“If we want a certain player and one club is prepared to pay an agent’s fee and the other one is not, frankly you lose the player you’re after.

“It’s a problem we are trying to get to grips with. We’re trying to be reasonable but if there are not any hard-line rules on how this works it is a free market and therefore we have to go with the tide. It’s not something I like, but it’s something I have to do.”
Value

Hearn’s concerns are backed up by the Football League’s figures, which reveal that agents were used in 396 of the 2,392 deals done last season – a rise of over 10 percent.

In addition, the number of clubs not using agents dropped from 19 a year ago to 14.

“None of the 72 Football League clubs made a profit last year and the answer to that is not to throw more money at agents but for everyone to understand the system and to make sure you get value for money,” said Hearn.

“Agents are now licensed – they are supposed to be respectable, responsible people. What we do know is that a good agent who does a good job is worth paying. A bad agent is not worth employing.

“An agent can be very useful but too many times now the agent’s fee effectively comes off the player’s salary and that’s really worrying for me.

“I don’t think footballers themselves understand that if you have a budget, which we all do for footballers, if an agent needs paying then that has to come from somewhere.”

Control

Hearn’s club is only one of many faced with higher agents’ fees.

League Two spending more than doubled last season with Notts County spending £246,483 – over £200,000 more than any other club.

Orient themselves paid out £30,000 in comparison to £7,000 the season before, prompting Hearn to call for reform.

“We need some sort of set, laid down scale of agents’ fees,” he said. “At the moment it is market demands and that can be very dangerous because it can get carried away.

“We need some sort of centralised system that says ‘on a player earning this amount of money the fee is a set amount’.

“If we are to tolerate agents, because I think they are going to be part of the game going forward, we need some more central control on the level of the fees they charge because it seems to me there is no little black book on what an agent gets. The agent gets from you as much as he can.

“We need a set of rules on the fee structure we pay in the same way that you go to a surveyor, in the same way you go to a lawyer, in the same way you go to an accountant; you can get budgets on these things and you can establish a central charging system.

“This is particularly important in the smaller clubs but then again you look at some of the agents fees in the Premier League – they are mind-blowing and I don’t understand where these numbers come from.”

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