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What is a “sports agent” ?

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Today, we’re talking about a unknown profession which without top-level sport could not works: the job of sports agent!

Soon, on our social networks, we will also share with you testimonials of several agents and other actors concerned by this subject: players, coaches, managers, parents of players to complete our comments… If, while reading these lines, you feel like answering or contributing with your testimonials, write us! The aim is to give you a forum to share your experiences and help those who have questions.

Sometimes portrayed as a sulphurous character, a “sports star babysitter”, an intermediary just here to take money or even as a real mentor, the sports agent remains mysterious because his role is often misunderstood. A job in the shadows, the sports agent is often the “easy target” to blame when things go wrong, and is rarely praised when things go well.
Beyond the clichés, we will try to explain to you in an objective way what the job is all about.

A profession regulated and defined by law

First of all, it is important to remember that the activity of sports agent is regulated: whether abroad by international federations or in France by the Sport Code (Articles L222-7 to L222-22).

As a reminder: “The activity consists in bringing together, in return of remuneration, the parties interested in concluding a contract either relating to the paid exercise of a sporting or training activity, or which provides for the conclusion of an employment contract having as its object the paid exercise of a sporting or training activity, may only be carried out by a natural person holding a sports agent’s licence”.

In France, it is forbidden to work as an agent without first obtaining a sports agent’s licence (under penalty of two years imprisonment and a €30,000 fine – Article L222-20 of the Sport Code).

To obtain a sports agent’s licence, you must pass a 2-stage exam :
A first test common to all sports, allowing the candidate’s legal knowledge to be assessed.
A second test (if the first is passed), specific to each sport, on knowledge of the regulations applicable to the sport in question.

In this way, the Federations ensure that their licensees (clubs and players) are advised by people with the necessary skills and knowledges.

If we often speak of “players’ agents”, we should be aware that agents can be ‘mandated’ by players but also by clubs.

The missions remain close since the challenge is always to find the best possible “match” between clubs and players, but in one case they act as advisors to the player, and in the other as advisors to the club.
In practice, he usually advises both, since his mission is to ensure that the agreement is found and signed. Both parts must therefore be satisfied. He is a facilitator without whom many agreements would not succeed.

Of course, there are cases where the agent can also be an obstacle to the success of certain negotiations.

The agent is an intermediary who is there to save his client time by presenting him with the best possible offers.
His aim is to be in contact with as many players as possible (clubs, players, partner agents) in order to be aware as soon as possible of the search opportunities of some and the availability of others.
Then his role is to negotiate an agreement between the parts to conclude a contract!

A lot of “hidden” missions

Presented as above, it seems simple. But in reality to achieve results, there are many hidden missions:

  • Scooting: one of the important missions of the agent (and which takes a large part of his time) is to research and analyse the players. This allows him to identify and get to know the players well before proposing them to clubs. This is the reason why you can be contacted directly by an agent who offers you an opportunity and not always by the clubs directly.
  • Career management: the agent must have a privileged relationship with his player and be a valuable advisor on the choice of clubs and career paths. He also advises the player on other issues that may impact his career: sports betting, doping, communication with fans and the media… all subjects that may affect his reputation and, by rebounding, his career.
  • Contract negotiation: the agent acts as an intermediary between the players and the clubs: administrative management, negotiation, proofreading and sometimes contract drafting… the agent must be present at each stage to ensure that “the deal is done” and that it is “secure” in its execution.
  • Networking: in order to get “useful” information as quickly as possible, the agent must be close to the clubs and players. A large part of his job is to maintain his contact network.
  • Other related but no less important aspects such as legal advice, advice on asset management and taxation, advice on managing image rights (sponsoring), assistance with retraining, etc… These are elements on which agents can bring a lot to sportsmen and women. Depending on the subject matter, the agent relies on external experts such as lawyers or financial advisors.

French law and the regulations of national and international federations also govern the remuneration of agents.

The agent does not receive a fixed remuneration for the missions presented above. They are paid “only on the basis of success”, in the form of a commission.
In France, a sports agent’s commission is limited to 10% of the remuneration negotiated in the contract signed between the club and the player (this percentage varies according to the sport – for example 8% in handball).

Important reminder: a sports agent cannot receive commission for the conclusion of a contract from a minor player (under 18 years of age). (Article L222-5 of the Sport Code).

The commission received by the sports agent does not correspond to his “net salary”. Indeed, it is an income or turnover, from which taxes, charges and all expenses related to his activity: travel, office, insurance, etc. must be deducted.

Depending on the levels and amount of contracts negociated, an agent’s remuneration can fluctuate widely.
So if we’re talking about “big” star contracts, it’s bound to be “big” sums (and often talked about in the press), but if we’re talking about less important negotiated contracts, it can take several dozen contracts a year to generate a stable income.

This is why many agents do not carry out this activity full time, but as a complement to their activity and income. Others group together within companies in order to join forces and provide better service to the players while ensuring the profitability of their activity.

Given that agents are paid a percentage of the contracts they sign, it is logical to conclude that to maximise their income, they move towards the top divisions and the largest contracts.

However, while agents are often equated with top level and big contracts, there are agents up to national levels as more and more clubs are becoming more professional and offering remuneration to players. In basketball in France it can go up to the fifth division – (NM3 in France) (with JIG contracts) and in football even up to regional levels.

Beyond the players who earn millions, there are many more players who have minimum wage contracts or even less with part-time contracts of just a few hundred euros.
The agents who accompany clubs and players at these ‘intermediate’ levels are often real support for them, as they bring professionalism to levels that are in the process of being structured.

If sometimes “it disturbs” that the agents intervene in these “small levels”, they respond to a real need: “how can I find the player I’m looking for?”. “How can I make sure I’m put forward to the clubs? ”
Without any other solution, clubs and players “copy” the high level and turn to these middlemen.

As a player, how to choose your agent?

You are a player and you are looking for an agent?
Here are a few tips for you:

First of all, ask yourself if you need an agent:
Be aware that contracts for professional sportsmen and women are prohibited at certain levels. No contract means no remuneration. In fact, agents are not allowed in these levels. So find out first of all whether the division in which you wish to work offers the possibility of contractual remuneration. If this is not possible, the agents cannot pay themselves and therefore cannot represent you.
You can therefore use your network of contacts or go through online platforms – such as Sportiw – which allow you to get in touch with the clubs.

If you think you need an agent :

  • Talk to your close circle, your trainers, other sportsmen and women who could put you in touch with an agent. Do not send messages to just anyone.
  • Know which agents are working at your level: it is rare that agents in the first divisions work in the lower divisions so it is useless to contact them as you often risk not getting a response and not being taken seriously.
  • Before signing anything, meet / exchange well with your potential representative, it is essential that the feeling passes between you. Ask them for contacts from players they have already worked with and contact them for their opinion!
  • Check that the person presenting himself as an agent is indeed an agent. Once again, in France, only licensed people are allowed to work. You can find the lists from the federations (on their websites). If the person does not have a licence, “run away”! It can be detrimental to you and your career.

Do you have other ideas ? Another opinion ? Would you like to share your experience ?

Do not hesitate to contact us to complete and enrich our article!

It is thanks to your sharing and testimonials that we will be able to share the best advice !

What about Sportiw?

First of all, let’s clarify one thing: Sportiw is not an agency.
Sportiw is a meeting platform for players, clubs, agents and other sports professionals. Everyone can log on to the platform for free and exchange with everyone.
At Sportiw, we are not here to compete with agents, on the contrary, our platform is a real working tool for them !

Stay connected!… In a few days, we will present the interest for agents to work with Sportiw and how the use of Sportiw is complementary for players – whether they have an agent or not.

We hope that this article will have helped you on the agent profession.

Feel free to comment, share your testimonials, ask questions… We will try to answer them or ask members of the Sportiw community to answer them (whether they are clubs, agents, players or others)!

SportiWely !

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