Shining a light on the murky world of the 10 percenters
I've never had a breakdown (or a breakthrough), and I've never had to shout "show me the money" down the telephone. I don't smoke big fat cigars either.
So I'm no Jerry Maguire and I'm certainly no Eric Hall but I am a sports agent and proud of it!
To tell you a little about myself, I’m 35 years old and married with two sons. I have a Masters degree in sports management, used to coach in community schemes at Coventry and York City and have also worked for the PFA.
But the most important fact, for the purposes of this blog, is that for 10 years I've been a licensed football agent and for the past seven years the managing director of my own business, the Football First Agency.
I've negotiated hundreds of deals in that time, worth millions of pounds. I've dealt with every type of player from naïve young lads trying to make their way in the game to experienced pros forging a path out of it.
I've dealt with England internationals at World Cups, helping them decide what to say to the press after they've just won the biggest game of their career, and I've taken calls from lower-league players telling me the doctor has just told them they’ll have to retire through injury and they don't know what to do.
I've either met or spoken to nearly every club manager at some point and I've heard their gripes about the money men at their club stopping them doing what they want.
And I've talked to the money men at those clubs and listened to them going on about about their manager's unrealistic demands. Then, most interestingly, I've tried to bring it all together to get the deal that my player wants.
Eric Hall... and a stereotype is born
I've dealt with most of the national press guys. Some have been good to my players, some haven't. Some have appreciated my assistance to them, some have criticised me for my lack of it.
By now you should be working out that I am involved in most elements of the game. But the question I am commonly asked by people at dinner parties is to explain what I actually do all day.
I'll quickly give you the four-line sophisticated dinner party response (I'll go more in depth in the future):
My job is to represent individual players in terms of negotiating their playing contract; arranging loan and permanent transfer moves; negotiating commercial deals; and handling their press and PR.
In addition, I'll help the players find the appropriate lawyers, accountants and financial advisors. In return, I receive a percentage commission of their earnings – and before you ask, it's 5 percent of their playing contract!
I'm not alone in this either. According to the FIFA website there are currently 372 licensed agents in England – and that takes no account of the lawyers and family members (who don't need the same qualification) or any of the unlicensed agents currently operating in my field.
We have a certain reputation and are not the most popular people among fans. Some of it is pretty well justified and I'm not going to try and defend some of the antics agents have got up to over the years. In fact, there are stories I'd like to tell over the next few weeks which will confirm some people's opinions – I'll just have to check them over with my lawyer first.
The purpose of this blog is to try to give you an insight into the working life of a football agent. And, although the guys at FourFourTwo.com have told me they don't want my opinions on the latest games, if I can sneak it by I might also occasionally give you my thoughts on some of the issues as they happen in football.
Read Alex Black's blogs here on FourFourTwo.com. Find out more about his clients at Football First Agency.
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