Football Agents and Teamwork: The Rising Popularity of Collaboration
In the ever-evolving world of modern football, talent is scouted globally and transfers occur between various international leagues, the requirement for football agents to collaborate with each other has become more vital and commonplace than ever. In this modern era, it is almost expected that smaller agencies will collaborate with each other to unlock new opportunities for their clients in different markets. These collaborations, based on mandate contracts, have reshaped the landscape of football agent relationships. In this blog piece, we will explore how such partnerships have become integral to the operation of agents, the key things to be aware of when using mandates to broker deals, and the benefits of doing so for your clients.
Traditionally, football agents have operated as solo entities, representing their clients independently. It can of course be tempting to attempt to do every deal and part of the negotiation yourself in order to keep 100% of the commission gained from any deal. However, the complexities of the modern football world, with its diverse leagues and constantly changing transfer dynamics, have led to the rise of collaborative mandates. These mandates typically involve two or more agencies working together to benefit from each other’s strengths and contacts.
Perhaps the primary reason behind this shift is network specialisation. Smaller agencies that excel in specific markets or regions can leverage their local knowledge and connections far above the presence you may have in a particular region. Even in some cases with bigger agencies that have worldwide, global offices they may not be effective and efficient in their communication between international offices and may also partner with other agents with whom individuals at the large agency have personal relationships with and trust in. Mandates may be options for almost any agent looking to diversify the opportunities they can present to their client.
By collaborating with agencies that have a stronger foothold in different regions, they can open up new avenues for your clients. For instance, an agency in South America might partner with one in Europe, giving their clients access to two highly competitive football markets.
In practice, if you have a client that is looking to move and their profile is a great fit for the rapidly expanding and booming Saudi Pro-League, the potential financial opportunity on offer is attractive but conducting agent operations in the Gulf can be difficult if you don’t have the right knowledge and network. In such a case, the most professional option would be to sign a mandate with a trusted partner in the Saudi market who is well connected with the clubs that may be interested in the player. In some instances, the partner may have already had transfer requests shared with him by the relevant clubs which match up with the client’s profile and they may come to you asking for a mandate to offer your player to the club.
How to Structure a Mandate
In a collaborative mandate, agencies typically agree to split the commission earned from a player transfer or contract negotiation, usually a conversation may begin at a 50/50 basis but the percentage tends to be higher with the agent who actually represents the player, and has done for many years, rather than in favour of the broker. This division of earnings ensures that both parties are motivated to work towards the best possible outcome for the player. However, whilst the finances may be at the forefront for some agents, it is absolutely imperative to pay close attention to other key clauses and points to be aware of when structuring a mandate agreement with another agent.
Put simply, a collaborative mandate agreement, also referred to as a collaboration agreement or co-representation agreement, is a contractual arrangement between football agents or agencies who come together to jointly represent a player’s interests. It is only possible for an agent to sign mandates with another if their exclusive representation agreement with the client contains a clause that grants them the power to ‘outsource’ the representation by subcontracting other agents. In cases where the representation agreement is not in place, it will be within thes player’s powers to seek a mandate with another agent.
The contract needs to reflect that this type of agreement is essentially for multiple agents who believe that pooling their expertise and resources can lead to a more favourable outcome for the player in terms of contract negotiations, transfer deals, or other aspects of their professional career. However, it is crucial to structure this collaboration carefully to protect the interests of all parties involved. Below are some non-negotiable aspects of the contract that must be clearly and legally outlined within a binding contractual agreement on both parties:
- Jurisdiction and Territories: The agreement should clearly specify the territories, countries, and specific clubs or leagues where the collaborating agents are permitted to represent the player. This prevents any potential conflicts of interest and ensures that each agent’s role is well-defined. It’s important to outline the scope of representation clearly to avoid misunderstandings. In practice, sometimes agents may grant a partner a mandate for one specific club where they have a very close relationship and can increase the chances of a successful negotiation. In more broader situations, agents can grant mandate agreements for an entire league, or even an entire country to allow the partner to exclusively represent their client in this jurisdiction.
- Duration of the Mandate: The agreement should specify the duration for which the collaborative mandate is in effect. This may be for a specific contract negotiation, the length of a transfer window, perhaps including the months building up to it, or in rarer situations, for a longer duration of the player’s career and representation agreement within a very narrow and specific market. Setting a clear timeline of days, weeks, or maybe months, helps prevent disputes over the scope and length of the collaboration and protects an agent’s exclusive representation agreement with a player.
- Commission Split: As mentioned, the commission earned from player transfers or contract negotiations is typically split on a fair basis, often 50% is distributed to both agents in a two-party agreement. However, the exact terms of the commission split should be explicitly stated in the agreement to avoid any disputes or disagreements later on. It can also often become more complex as to who has direct control of the player and who is entitled to what proportion of the commission if more than two parties are involved such as in the case where a father of a player works with an agent in their home country who then signs a mandate with an agent abroad. It’s important to clarify how the commissions will be calculated and when they will be paid to avoid anyone feeling cheated and possibly pursuing legal action.
- Protective Measures: To safeguard the interests of both the player and the collaborating agents, the agreement should include protective measures in case things go wrong. These measures may include dispute resolution mechanisms, confidentiality clauses, non-compete clauses (to prevent agents from poaching the player for exclusive representation), and termination clauses that outline the conditions under which the collaborative mandate can be dissolved. For any agent engaging in such an agreement, failure to fulfil a duty contained within the contract or a breach of the contract can have consequences for the reputation and professionalism of other parties to the contract, as we will explain further below but any protective clauses within the agreement should attempt to avoid negatively impacting you for the fault of another party.
- Legal Review: As with the majority of contractual documents that an agent will work with during their career, it is highly advisable to have the collaborative mandate agreement reviewed by a qualified sports attorney or lawyer with expertise in football contracts. They can ensure that the contract is legally sound, compliant with relevant regulations, and does not jeopardise the exclusive representation agreement between the player and their primary agent. This step is also crucial to protect the professionalism and reputation of all parties involved.
The Importance of Trust
Ultimately, the success of collaborating with other agents comes down to the breadth and extent of your network within the football industry. The agents that have networked thoroughly and built strong relationships with professional and respectable partners will have the most reward from engaging in deal brokering. Opening up collaboration routes across the footballing world will create opportunities for your clients and improve the overall service you can provide them .
While collaborative mandates offer numerous advantages when working with the right partners, it’s important to tread carefully. Agents put their reputations on the line when they introduce a player represented by another agency. Trust and professionalism are paramount in these partnerships. Therefore, it’s crucial to choose your partners wisely.
Before offering a player to another agency, it’s recommended to have a mandate in place. This mandate outlines the terms and conditions of the collaboration, ensuring that both parties are on the same page regarding responsibilities and commission splits. This step not only protects the interests of the player but also establishes a clear framework for the partnership.
In some cases, agents will be hesitant to provide a mandate to another partner for various reasons. This can include a doubtfulness as to whether the agent requesting a mandate really has the contact and connections to a club or league that they are claiming to. The agencies involved should have the right contacts and networks in the target markets. Having the ability to navigate the complex web of football clubs, scouts, and decision-makers is essential for finding the best opportunities for their clients.
Alternatively, if an agent appears untrustworthy or is ‘chancing their arm’ by sharing handfuls of players with you, it may not be sensible to sign a mandate with them as they may not even have 100% control of the player. For a collaborative mandate to succeed, the player must be under 100% control of the agency with whom the mandate is established. This ensures that decisions about the player’s career are made collectively, with the player’s best interests in mind and avoids the risk that your professionalism will be undermined by presenting players during negotiations that when the time comes, you can’t actually follow through with the deal.
This leads us on to the point that you must always check the players that you sign mandates for and clients you are offering to other partners. For the former, you must ensure that the players they are sharing with you are of the right quality for the club requests before offering. Remember, if you represent a player on a mandate basis, it is you that the club deals with directly and your reputation and relationship with that club is put on the line. If you present them with players that are not of the right level or perhaps don’t fit their requests, they may see you as a time-waster and future negotiations and deals will be more difficult to achieve. For example, presenting a €1m transfer fee player, with €500,000 net salary expectations to a club that is struggling financially and their highest player earns €100,000 gross, will not be looked upon kindly by the decision makers within the club and tarnishes the trust and respect they may have had for you.
Similarly, an agent that offers another agent poor-quality clients or just sends any client over without any specific expectation or request but purely to hope for the best, will appear unprofessional to the agent they send them too. If you are going to approach other agents to enquire about the possibility of signing a mandate and finding opportunities for your client or theirs, ensure you do so with the utmost professionalism. If it is your own client, you can share details such as their TransferMarkt link, a highlights video if they are lesser known, their contractual conditions, financial expectations in terms of salary and transfer fee, and any other details that may be relevant. Be sure to also check with your client beforehand that if an opportunity did arise in the country the mandate agreement will be for, they would take it, otherwise you can end up looking unprofessional.
Remember that football can be unpredictable so mistakes can happen along the way and obstacles can arise from the player’s side, the club’s side and of course, the agents’ sides. However, in every deal brokering agreement you enter into, remember that professionalism is vital and that your reputation is on the line. If you remember this, the benefits and new opportunities that come with mandate agreements and agent collaborations can be lucrative for both you and your client and enhances the services you can provide by utilising your network to open new avenues.
Smaller agencies partnering with others in markets where they lack expertise is a strategic move that can unlock these new and expanded opportunities for their clients. However, trust, professionalism, and clear mandates are the cornerstones of successful collaborations. Agents who uphold these principles while working together can provide their clients with the best possible chance to thrive in the world of football. In the beautiful game where teamwork is key, even football agents are finding ways to collaborate with each other.