No question is a bad question.
We are often asked questions concerning all aspects of the football industry, whether it be regarding legal matters around a players' image rights, contractual issues or tax advice, below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we receive.
Can anyone be represented by a football agent?
Providing you are at least 18 years of age, you can enter into what is known in the industry as a representation contract with a licensed football intermediary. Players who have entered the year of their 16th birthday can also sign a representation contract with an intermediary who is permitted by the FA to represent minors (players aged 15-17) such as PBS Football agent Tom Peace-Buzzard. A football intermediary would generally make an assessment as to whether it will be in their interest to represent the player. It is ultimately the age old risk-reward debate - does the intermediary believe the player can progress in this industry and therefore earn the agent commission? This is the reason why unless the player is already professional, it is a risk for an agent to take on players from amateur level unless they believe they have the potential to succeed. Of course there will be young players at professional clubs' academies who agents will also be interested to sign with a view to oversee a potential incoming first professional contract.
When might I need an agent?
The reality is, a football agent will have the job of working on the players' behalf to source them opportunities. This may include networking with current managers or heads of recruitment and keeping their ears to the ground regarding possible clubs in need of certain positions. So in answer, a player that is seeking to take their game to the next level perhaps from amateur or semi-pro levels may seek an agents help. Or parents of players aged 15, 16 and 17 might begin to look into representation for their child who is about to be offered a first professional contract within an academy set-up. Once a player is professional they generally will require somebody to negotiate on their behalf concerning new contracts and possible transfers. An awful lot goes on behind the scenes in professional football and a player will have an agent to take care of this so they can concentrate on their football.
What will an agent do for me?
Most agents would likely answer this questions sarcastically and say they end up taking care of anything and everything! But the main job an agent will undertake for their client is to negotiate the best playing contract possible. As with anything in life, if something is in demand it can generally command a higher price. If there are a number of clubs interested in a player, the agent will be able to use this to their advantage and theoretically create a bidding war. A good agent will also often be able to create this demand themselves. Agents will also look to source their clients commercial deals and endorsements if they are top level and desirable to businesses.
What is a representation contract?
How does an agent earn money from me, the player?
In layman's terms, a player will have in their rep contract with their agent the agreed fee that the agent will take from the deal they broker on behalf of the player. For example:
An agent has an agreed commission of 5% of gross basic income and 20% of any commercial endorsements with the player. The agent brokers the player's first professional contract at £2,000 per week on a 3 year deal. This would be a gross basic income of £2,000 x 156 weeks = £312,000 of which 5% of this is £15,600 to the agent.
The agent then sources a boot deal for the player at £12,000 for the year. The agent would then receive £2,400 commission (agreed 20%) for this commercial deal.
Do I physically pay my agent their commission?
This answer could be yes and no. It is actually not very common for a player to physically pay an agent directly themselves. Concerning playing contracts the agent will usually receive the fee on behalf of the player from the club itself as a one-off fee upon signing (and therefore deducted from the player's wage across the contract term). The fee due to the agent may also be paid on the player's behalf as what is called a 'benefit in kind'. This is almost like a benefit the employer gives to its employee (like a company may give an employee a car) and the employee pays tax on this 'benefit' through the their pay.
Regarding commercial endorsements, this is obviously separate to the football club and generally the player would pay their agent the commission through invoice either up front or monthly.
What is dual representation?
It is quite common in the industry for an intermediary to represent both their player AND the club they are signing for. This is called dual representation. In theory, the club is paying the intermediary for the service of getting the player to sign for them as well. The player must agree to this via signing the FA's Intermediary Declaration form IM1.