Having been involved in football as a player, fan, scout, coach and elected supporters representative for nearly 30 years [Russ], for me the word ‘agent’ is one that most football fans associate with vast sums of money, underhand tactics and ultimately greed in an uncontrolled or governed industry. Fans see the profession as a necessary evil, where individuals, usually experts in law, use their expertise to win contracts, without a thought for the player’s career path, or the clubs’ recruitment requirements.
In a bid to change its image, the FA have now named this profession as the ‘Intermediary’, and the practice is governed closely by the FA, like it has never been. All intermediaries have to be registered with the FA, and in the cases of dealing with children (minors) they have to be DBS checked and up to date. More importantly in the latter, no money is permitted to change hands.
There are many types of intermediary today. The ex-pros and the law men make up the bulk – but what if there was a new breed of intermediary? One that disrupts the industry by offering a different kind of service, and what would that service look like?
I don’t doubt that every agency or individual intermediary has the player’s best interests at heart (ok, maybe not all do!) but you do wonder when you see some of the deals taking place, who is actually in control of the player’s career. From the very top level down to part-time regional football, the game it littered with examples where players are shifted from club to club for the sole reason of increasing the bottom line. You only have to look at the recent Borehamwood FC debacle for evidence.
At Ballon, we genuinely aim to put the players wellbeing and career first – with a 360 view of the player, and a holistic view of their career. From career inception to post playing day plans. Our business model includes the reintegration back into society as we feel that too many players are left on the scrap heap at the end of their careers. Only the very fortunate end up sat on Sky Sports offering their thoughts on the latest tactical trends.
It’s a big ask, there’s no doubt about it and we’re under no illusions of the task ahead. But with our contacts both inside and outside the game, our knowledge of the game and supporting expertise, we feel we have the right people in place to change the way ‘the agent’ is seen by most.