The question is often asked ”why do footballers need agents”, and I would be lying if at some point in time I hadn’t asked the question myself, but then again I find myself often asking similar questions along the lines of :

Why do I need an accountant?

Why do I need a mechanic?

Even in an extreme case, why do I need a doctor?

Well the simple answer is … I don’t … but I would be possibly far worse off without one than I would be with a good one. I could read the journals, manuals, take the courses and seek advice from friends to negate the need for these professionals and many others, but in the majority of cases I wouldn’t be able to attain the same professional results.

The question as to ‘why footballers need agents’, was most publicly asked when a former Manchester United player, England International and now TV presenter questioned the need for players needing football agents with statements such as:

“Footballers think they need agents – but it’s not the case,”

“Players need good advice and good accountants – but they don’t need people taking hundreds of thousands of pounds off of them.”

(…… subsequently, the question  could  also be asked ; do sports TV presenters, sports commentators and football ‘pundits’ need agents ?)

I will quite openly admit that in a lot of cases footballers would be better off without their current agents, but in many cases good agents provide that advice that the former footballer mentions.

As with most industries there are good and bad in all, whether this be on an ethical measure, a professional measure or some other form of measurement and evaluation. Personally I can think of an accountant in my past who charged me for a service which in my early years in business was little more than book-keeping, and not very good book-keeping at that. Although I only truly learnt that lesson after employing a good accountant and seeing how they helped me and what in effect they saved me, their costs may have been higher but so was the value.

 

So Why Do Footballers Need Agents?

Well to state that every player needs an agent would to an extent be incorrect, especially in the case of a player who is happy to spend all of their career at one club without a new challenge, and take what is presented to him by the solitary club.

It is very important however, to consider that football is a business (even more than ever nowadays) and clubs are run as such. So it is understandable that they are focussed on getting the best deal for themselves and subsequently their supporters and owner, and this may at times (with some clubs) include an element of player exploitation.

 

Poacher Turned Gamekeeper (or Vice Versa) ?

What a lot of people don’t realise is that some clubs employ agents themselves to recruit players, and as such this agent ‘should’ act in the best interests of the club and thus get rewarded and paid by the club, so is it worth asking the questions :

Why does a club feel the need to employ an agent?

Where does this leave the player? And who represents the player’s best interests?

In fact several clubs now have executives and employees who were previously agents so isn’t that a case for the defence that: good agents have great value in the football industry for their employers/client, whether it is a player or club.

It is worth considering the responses of a renowned and well respected Premier League manager to the comments made by the aforementioned former player in reference to agents:

“I have worked with agents my whole career and I do not share that opinion,”

“There are agents who do very well for the players and there are very few who do not do well for the players.

“There are also some agents who do very well for the clubs, because I have got some players through agents”

So as with most things people’s opinions vary, call me biased, but I know who I agree more with J

 

Players Have a Choice?

In a previous article, the question was asked “Should a footballer have an agent”  and the fact is that every case is different, and at the end of the day no player is forced to have an agent in fact they not only have a choice as to whether have an agent or not but under current regulations they have the choice of a variety of people who can take on that representative role

 

‘Good’ Agents Earn Their Rewards

I firmly believe that good agents EARN their money, needless to say some agents get paid a large amount of money, whether they actually ‘earn’ it is up for debate

If a club can seal the deal on a player signing a contract for a lower cumulative salary, then why shouldn’t they do so, much the same that if the same player can get a longer term contract from the club with the help of their own agent surely that agent has done their job in protecting the long terms interest of the player.

 

So in Summary …… Yes, Football Agents are a ‘Necessary Evil’

The agent should be there, representing the best interests of their client at all times whether it be a player or club. I have often used the phrase that they ‘ride shotgun’ for their player-client or that they are the player’s wingman in terms of their career, allowing the player to concentrate on what they do best – play football.

If players wish not to have an agent then that is their right, and should not be criticised one way or the other. However if they fail to get what they rightly deserve out of their next contract negotiation, or fail to secure a contract that best represents their long term interests if they have a career ending injury, maybe just maybe they will question the choice of not having a ‘good agent’ to represent their best interests and provide value for money

….. after all not all ex-footballers can rely on a career in television when their playing days are over.