Joorabchian, an Anglo-Iranian businessman, claimed he helped Cook land the job at City and “increased his salary more than four times” from what he was earning at his previous job, with Nike.

Their relationship, however, deteriorated dramatically: Joorabchian became Cook’s bete noir.

The distasteful email which led to Cook’s resignation concerned the mother of the City defender Nedum Onuoha. Joorabchian had told BBC Sport there was “a level of interest” in clubs looking to sign Onuhoa.

Yet last week, just days after the 11-month-old email surfaced, Joorabchian denied he advised or represented the player. It is no wonder that senior figures at City believe Joorabchian was involved in the leak of the email that precipitated Cook’s demise.

Joorabchian is an unlicensed football agent, yet whatever you call the men who work on behalf of players – agents, advisers, representatives – the Onuoha episode highlights the power they can wield.

With Premier League clubs paying £67m to agents in the 12 months up to November last year, the stakes are high and business is brisk in the billion-pound industry of signing players.

In 2007, the forthright Gary Neville, the now-retired Manchester United defender, called for “the removal of agents from the game”, arguing that players did not “need people taking hundreds of thousands of pounds off them, just good advice from a solicitor or an accountant”.

Greg Keenan, the chief executive of Aspire Management, is puzzled by the negative publicity surrounding agents. When you operate in a sport where there is a lot of money at stake then there is bound to be criticism. It goes with the territory,” said Keenan, who counts Lars Lagerback, the former Sweden coach, and Kanu, the Nigeria striker, as clients.

“It really doesn’t bother me, and one thing you learn over the years is that there is no point losing sleep over something that you cannot control. At the end of the day, what matters is that clients are happy.”

Terry Robinson, who spent two years at Sheffield United as chairman, describes agents as “a necessary evil”.

“If players don’t want them, then they have no role to play,” he said. “But the players do want them as they don’t always have the confidence to negotiate their own deals.”

Football agents, it seems, are no different than operators in any industry: some are upstanding; some are rogues.

“You get bad estate agents,” said Clive Hart, who works with 20 players as a consultant for Select Sports Management. “Everyone has a horror story from an estate agent but newspapers aren’t interested in a bad story from an estate agent as football is more in the public eye.”

Brian McDermott, the manager at Reading, concurs. “You get good and bad agents just like you get good and bad managers,” he said.

Richard Lee, the former England Under 21 and Blackburn Rovers goalkeeper who is now plying his trade in the third tier of English football for Brentford, certainly had a bad one.

“After playing for England U21s I had a dozen agents ringing me,” Lee said. “I eventually signed with one but as soon as he signed me, I never heard from him for two years. I even had to negotiate my own deal when my contract was up at Watford. I then got a letter from him saying I owed him £7,000 commission. Legally, I had to pay it.”

Agents are usually paid a percentage of a player’s total contract, normally between five and 10 per cent.

Tor-Kristian Karlsen, the consultant who advises a number of clubs about players in South America, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia, told BBC Sport in an interview last year the fees agents charge clients are not commensurate with the work they put in.

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