Many years ago when Mark McCormack shook hands with golfer Arnold Palmer the formalisation of Player management as a business had begun. It was a handshake that shook the world of sports business, it was the beginning of player -agent relationships, it was the beginning of a revolution that spawned thousands of player agents/agencies across the world.
Over the years the sole purpose of an agent has been to ensure that his/her client continue to perform to their best possible limits and take the commercial stress of their minds. However, the elements of rules, regulations by sporting bodies do tend to affect the way agents do business.
Most recently Raheem Sterling, a footballer who plays for English Premier League outfit Liverpool FC has been in the news and has raised alarms on modern Player – Agent relationships.
If you try to break down the situation, there are mainly 2 reasons that possibly get an agent involved beyond scope of work:
1. Need/Greed for monies
It’s with the young players where the concern is for agents. It is the ban on making any money from players under 18, with the FA extending the rule so that no player can be contracted by an agent before their 16th birthday.
The real problem arises when an agent can’t be paid when he represents a player like Raheem Sterling or Wayne Rooney, who breaks through at 16 or 17. Will it force clubs and player representatives to agree murky, underground deals?
In Sterling’s case, his agent Aidy Ward is playing hardball in negotiating a new deal, currently the contract is stalled and will be discussed after the season is over.
2. Control your client (Make your client your mouth piece)
Here is the problem. If an agent is supposed to focus on player representation, why do players talk about monies and negotiations in public? In Sterling’s case, he should not be discussing the monies on national television but many may argue why did the club bring it out in the public domain but that’s what a club is supposed to do – set a price and negotiate the price, however, the club cannot control news leaking out. Involving players in the mix is a bad PR move but as they say, any PR is good PR.
What happens with Sterling, Ward and Liverpool FC will be seen in May but the roles of players agents will always remain under the radar and clubs will have to set clear communication in terms of what players should be allowed to speak in the media.