In many industries and communities there is always an element of mistrust, this is especially prevalent when it comes to a business environment and community where the benefits and rewards are high – especially in terms of financial rewards.

So is this the reason why when it comes to professional football people choose to work with those agents they know or even those that they know they can’t trust – whether they be players, clubs, coaches or managers.

The truth of the matter is that despite there being many licensed football agents (estimated at 438 in England, at the time of writing this article) very few make a realistic and good living, never mind work with the top players and clubs, and subsequently don’t earn those much publicised rewards. So is it the best agents, the most qualified agents or even those who look after the best interests of their clients, who represent the best players? The simple answer is no, it is not – and this is quite often given credence by the fact that many of the big transfers and news involving agents mention the same names (and not always for the right reasons).

There is nothing to say that the agencies with multiple agents are any better than individual agents (or vice versa), so how are the decisions made by clubs, players and third parties as to which agent or agency to work with? It would not be naive to think that a major influence is financial … however, the main factor we tend to find is more so the factor of trust, or even a lack of trust.

In business, my decision on which bank or accountant to go to is not only a matter of trust but also a matter of expertise, cost, what they can do for my business and who I am dealing with. If I didn’t believe I could trust them I wouldn’t use them, never mind continue to use them – however in relation to football agent representation things seem to be quite different.

Some Look To a Centre Of Influence

In most cases someone will recommend something or someone with all good intentions, yet it seems in sport this is not always the case. With many publicised stories in the media it is not unknown for coaches, managers, scouts, clubs or executives to recommend an agent to a player or a player to an agent. There is nothing wrong with this in our opinion, however is this all down to looking out for the best interests of the player, and in many cases ,yes it is, but this recommendation can sometimes be misguided or influenced in other ways.

Trusting What is Known
It is not unusual for football agents to have a successful and ever expanding portfolio of clients even when their reputation both inside and outside of the industry has been tarnished. However, people within the game know them, and even in some cases know they cannot be trusted and/or must be treated with caution – but even so, they choose to work with an agent they know than one they don’t know.

Not what You Know But Who You Know
If you look at the FIFA list of agents or even the FA list of agents some scrutiny may show a bit of a trend in the number of ex-players and managers who are now agents along with the relatives of those in the football fraternity.

Like all agents there are good and there bad, but many of those migrating from other areas of football and sport into the role of an agent choose to maintain the old ethos of what used to be done, and to an extent how they were represented. Is this always good? If the reputation of agents is so bad doesn’t this mean the old way was bad and it needs to be changed? But yet, both players and club officials choose representation by well known names.

Consider the “Football Agent Minefield”
I always seem to use an analogy when I can, so please excuse me:

If you are confronted with a minefield at least you can proceed with caution as you know what you are confronting, the danger is still there despite approaching with caution.

So what do you do,

    choose to walk through the minefield and risk injury, proceed with ultimate caution and TRY to diffuse all the hazards,
    or try and find a way around the minefield?

Personally I would try to find a way round the minefield and avoid injury, so why do many in professional sport proceed into the hazard?

So Where Does This Leave an ‘Ethical’ Sports Agency/Agent?
When Chiron was established, we actively promoted it as an ethical sports agency trying to make a bit of a difference. Yet with a little bit of foresight I thought the use of the word ‘ethical’ had become a bit too cliché and overused in many industries. This has even come to the point where there is a certain amount of ‘scoffing’ amongst those in the sports community when the words ethical and agency are mentioned in the same sentence.

With Chiron Sports and Media, we are trying to evolve what we do and how we do it – to not only benefit our clients but also the sport in which they participate and work cooperatively with others. However on several occasions whether by letter, by email, over the telephone or even in person we have tried to engage with clubs, executives, coaches, managers, ex-players, scouts and what has been the response – well I would estimate 15% (20% at most). Is it any wonder that the reputation of agents remains the same when many within the industry wont look to something new and look to build trust in it?

We intend to continue to try to ‘build bridges’ with clubs, sportspeople, coaches, retired sportspeople, and club representatives and hopefully gain a bit of trust with them … as we know that the ethos of what we are doing is right and it will achieve results.

And for those of you who believe there is still no place for agents in sport and/or football, just think where you would be without your estate-agent, travel-agent, financial-advisor, mortgage broker, or even the sales assistant in a shop …………