What does a football agent do?
A football agent represents football players and handles all elements of their careers. You would help them decide which club to play for, ensure they are sufficiently paid for their time, and complete all the deals on their behalf. It’s a rewarding job, but is incredibly intensive – especially as you reach the top level of the industry, you’ll be expected to work almost every hour of every day. You can either work as a part of an agency, or as an individual agent, though trends are increasingly pushing towards agencies with specialist agents who handle areas such as answering media requests, negotiating contracts, and securing sponsorship deals. You may also find yourself acting as an agent for football managers as well as players.
“At the end of the day, what we’re there to do is look after the players, and act in their best interests.”
Joel Macadar, Football Agent
How do you become a football agent?
The football agent industry is highly saturated, so there’s always a lot of competition. As such, when you start you truly start at the beginning – even the best football coaches usually start their career by working with non-league talents, trying to get them signed on. Your first step is to get registered with the Football Association (FA) as a registered intermediary. Without this certification, you cannot legally conduct intermediary activity on behalf of a football player or manager.
The certification stage will be a test of character, as well as a way to ensure you have never been convicted of financial crimes, or other serious criminal charges. Once you’ve done that, you need to obtain professional liability insurance, and then simply go out and put in the hard work to get some players signed on with new clubs.
As your earnings are going to be based almost entirely on commission, this is the hardest stage of your new career. You will need to go to visit non-league clubs to watch their up and coming talent, and try to then persuade full-time clubs to hire them, much like a football scout. It’s an unforgiving hiring environment, but if you prove successful, it can swiftly become highly lucrative.
What does it take to be a football agent?
To be a football agent, you need to have a very well developed skill set. This will include:
- Drive and ambition – especially in your early career, before you can join an agency, you will need to be incredibly self-disciplined. You will be working alone, and will need to be independent and willing to work the hours needed to achieve your goals.
- Confidence – you will need to be confident and able to show that your self-confidence is not unwarranted. If you are negotiating for a player, you need to be able to show you are confident in them or getting them hired will be impossible.
- Excellent understanding of contract law – much of the work of a football agent is handling the legal side of their clients contracts. This means you need to have an excellent understanding of how the law applies to your clients.
- Trustworthiness and tact – while representing your clients, you will often be entrusted with numerous secrets and pieces of sensitive information by your clients. Your clients have to rely on your utterly, as you control their futures so you must be trustworthy and tactful at all times.
- A true passion for football – it should be obvious, but without passion for football itself, it’s likely that you won’t get very far as a football agent. You need to have impeccable market knowledge, and without passion to drive this, that will be hard to achieve.
- Very strong market knowledge – your market knowledge will be the stage on which you negotiate your clients contracts. This knowledge could be the key to finding your client a successful career opportunity, so you have to make sure you’re at the absolute top of your game.
- Exceptional communications skills – a very large part of the role of a football agent is being an intermediary for their clients. You will need excellent interpersonal skills to successfully negotiate, and also to communicate effectively with the players themselves.
What qualifications does a football agent need?
To be a football agent, you do not need any formal qualifications. You simply need to have successfully registered with the Football Association. However, due to the complex legal side of the role, many football agents were previously lawyers or had trained as lawyers, as this allows them the best chance of success. If you wish to be a football agent, you should make sure that you have a good understanding of the football market, business decisions and the complexities of contract law.
What makes a good football agent?
The difference between a good and a bad football agent is that the good football agent has an excellent network to draw on. You cannot be everywhere at the same time, and you need the help of others to achieve success. Whether you need to be made aware of opportunities for your existing clients, or to be warned to steer clear of a problematic club, then you will be doing so based on the judgement of your network.
“Networking is probably the most important thing in our business. To create a network, to literally build up that network, to maintain it, and at the right time, to really use this network.”
Dr Erkut Sogut, Football Agent
How do you get a football agent license?
In order to become licensed by the Football Association as an intermediary, you must first fulfill three criteria. These are that:
- You must be over the age of 18.
- You must successfully pass the test of good character provided by the FA.
- You must pay the registration fee of £500 to the FA.
If you fail any of these, you will not be refunded your registration fee, and will have to make a new application to be recognised as a football intermediary.
Steps to becoming a football agent?
Step 1 – Begin building a network in the football industry
The first step in becoming a successful football agent is in building a network of individuals in the industry. Without their help, you will find it a hundred times harder to achieve success. You will need to ask these individuals about new potential signings, hints about players you hadn’t previously considered, and just generally as a network of contacts who can be relied upon.
Step 2 – Ensure you are eligible to be a football agent
Once you have begun building your network, you will need to ensure you are fully eligible to become a football agent. This means ensuring you have not committed any financial crimes or serious crimes, and that you have never been declared bankrupt. You will also need to demonstrate your right to residency and work within the UK. At this stage, it is also advisable to ensure you are sufficiently educated in contract law and the specifics of the global football market.
Step 3 – Make your application to the FA
After proving that you have the right to work in the UK, you should then make your application to the FA. If you intend to work with minors at any stage, this will also include a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check to ensure you should be allowed to work with children.
Step 4 – Get some experience
Assuming you pass the application process, you will now be allowed to work as a football agent. However, as you are at an early stage of your career it may take a while before you are sufficiently well known as to attract big clients to work with you. Either you must begin seeking out new talent, work with undesirable talent, or work with an agency to gain experience. By doing so, you build your skills as well as reinforcing your network, hopefully opening doors in the future.
Step 5 – Draw on your network, and stay driven!
When you have begun to amass some experience, you’ll need to start drawing on your network and driving your career forwards. At some point, you will need to make a name for yourself, and by helping an influential player achieve a new contract, or by signing a new up-and-coming name will certainly assist you in this.
How much do football agents make?
Football agents can make a very varied amount of money depending on where they are within their career. As football agents earn on commission for any transfer or contract they negotiate, those in their early career are unlikely to make much as they are not representing top-flight football players. Most UK football clubs will work at a rate of 5% of the players annual salary. Those who are working at the highest level within the profession have the potential to be earning millions each year. Take Mino Raiola for example, as the agent for top performing players he can expect to earn much more.