The football agent "gravy train" may be on the verge of hitting the buffers as the attitudes of Football League chairmen harden towards their profession.
A report published by the League yesterday confirmed fees paid to agents by clubs in the Coca-Cola Championship, League One and League Two fell by two per cent in the 12 months up to June 30 this year.
In total £7,660,028 was spent by the 72 clubs, a drop of £160,000 on the previous year, with 16 outfits claiming to have paid not a penny to players' representatives.
Wolverhampton Wanderers and Coventry City - the only West Midlands clubs in the figures - paid out £260,334 and £164,550 respectively.
There is scepticism among some chairmen about the way in which agents' fees are recorded by certain clubs, with allegations that clubs sometimes choose to add the agent's cut to the transfer fee rather than admit they hand over money directly.
But it seems football is no longer the agent free-for-all it was once assumed to be. Out of all last season's Championship clubs still in the division, Plymouth paid the least to agents, £79,075.
Chief executive Michael Dunford said: "There is a realisation on the part of agents, players and clubs that perhaps the gravy train is finished and the agents are having to work harder for their money.
"It's got to be a good thing for football. Agents' money is going out of the game and the more money we can keep in the better.
"There won't come a point in the foreseeable future where we're not dealing with agents, but generally there is a tightening of the purse strings. With new regulations coming in to make players pay their own agency fees I would see fees dropping even further."
One of the clubs to have declared no payments were League One Scunthorpe, whose general manager Jamie Hammond said: "We try not to spend money on agents.
Why spend money when you don't have to?"
However, few agents seem ready to change careers quite yet. Willie MacKay, who numbers Pascal Chimbonda and Jason Roberts among his clients, said: "If you've got the right player, within reason the club are still willing to pay the right fee. It's business as usual."