From Jorge Mendes to Mino Raiola, agents have become as much household names as the players they represent. So much so, that it is no longer so extraordinary when agents take the headlines, and players become the story’s subplot. From increasing publicity, earning big-money moves or simply negotiating a new bumper contract for their players, there are agents working behind the scenes at almost all levels of football. To be a top level agent seems like a glamorous job, living the high life with the world’s most famous players, but just how much do football agents earn, and how do you become one?
Jorge Mendes is one of the most powerful men in world football
How much do football agents earn? Firstly, it must be said that this is not just something that happens at the top level of the game. From the 1st February 2018 to the 31st January 2019, National League sides Salford City and Chesterfield both paid over £70,000 in Intermediary and Agents’ fees, showing how the phenomenon has filtered down the pyramid. These fees seem insignificant compared to the millions of pounds that surround Europe’s biggest stars, but proportionately the numbers are staggering. Of course, the agents themselves at lower levels make far less than the likes of Raiola, with earnings depending entirely on the quality and quantity of their clients. Agents work on commission, generally up to around 10 per cent, and Sports Management Worldwide state that they can earn between £1,200 and £550,000 per Premier League client per year.
Mario Balotelli (left) is pictured with his agent Mino Raiola
(Image: Rex Features)
Even clients playing in the Championship can earn their agents between £1,000 and £11,500 annually. Agents also earn money from their clients endorsement contracts – that is, the contracts that allow brands to use that particular footballer’s name or face. As an example, Forbes states Juventus and Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo made $47million from endorsements in 2018, which will have boosted agent Jorge Mendes’ earnings significantly. This is, of course, the very top of the top. Mendes, along with others, is what is known as a ‘super agent’. Super agents are those who are renowned for earning into the millions from their clients by negotiating the biggest contracts, the most lucrative transfers and ‘collecting’ the most famous players.
Lionel Messi arrives to court with his father Jorge Horacio Messi
After the last full year reports were released in 2017, the BBC reported that English clubs’ agent fees had risen by 38 per cent in one year, from £160million to £220million. With fees increasing at such a rate, there has never been a more lucrative time to be a football agent. How to become a football agent If you’re considering become an agent, lured in by the tantalising temptation of soaring income, it’s best to first think about what sort of a person you need to be. The best agents are excellent communicators, but stubborn enough to get the deal they want. They can handle the pressure of intense negotiations, but know how to make their clients marketable and appear personable in front of the media. There are no exams that football agents need to pass, but entering into the profession without an in depth knowledge of contract law and business management would be a risky step to take. As FIFA do not register agents themselves, all agents must be registered with the association of the country where their clients are playing or managing, so multiple clients may mean multiple registrations.
Mino Raiola is considered one of the most powerful men in world football
In England, the Football Association (FA) takes care of this, and test prospective agents on ‘Good Character and Reputation’, along with checking their criminal record. Once everything is in place, the FA charges an initial fee of £500, followed by an annual registration fee of £250. Many agents are family members of the players they represent, as the player in question knows they can trust them, especially at a young age. Occasionally, those family members remain as agents throughout their careers, such as Lionel Messi’s father, Jorge. Step one into becoming a football agent, then, is to have a son who becomes the best player in the world. Easy.
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