The CIES Football Observatory has today published a new study of football agent activity in Europe. The detailed report reveals that the yearly turnover for football intermediaries in UEFA member national associations is around 400 million €. The study also highlights the great level of concentration in the player representation market: half of the big-5 league footballers are represented by 83 football agents or agencies.
Other key findings concern the demographic profile of licensed agents domiciled in the five biggest European football markets: England, Italy, Spain, Germany and France. A questionnaire survey carried out by the authors of the study, Raffaele Poli and Giambattista Rossi, shows that agents are on average aged 42. Only 3.4% of them are female.
Almost three quarters of agents hold a university degree, and 71% of them speak a foreign language at intermediary or above. Only 41% of licensed agents carry out the job full-time. The majority operate in other business sectors - primarily law and finance.
The study also shows that a minority of agents (46%) support their clients in personal care activities such as finding a house or flat, organize travel, helping family members, etc. This result shows that the general view of agents “baby-sitting” their protégés does not correspond with reality. The former are above all busy in “spinning webs” and brokering deals.
Only 42% of the players represented by the respondents of the survey are senior professionals. This indicates that most of the agents are mainly active in the search for young talent, in the hope of making money in the future. While promising players can also take advantage of this situation, the pressure that intermediaries may exert on them is a controversial issue.
The research also shows that collaboration between intermediaries is also a key aspect of the profession. Half of the agents directly represent players on behalf of colleagues. The main reason to enter into such partnerships is to introduce a player client into a specific national market. This reveals the crucial role played by agents for the setting up of transnational networks at a global level.
Sporting directors are clearly indicated as the most important business partners when placing players, followed by football managers. Almost 40% of agents have already represented at least one coach since starting their career. The great proportion of agents who manage the careers of both players and managers raises the question of conflicts of interest in the representation and transfer market.
The importance of this problem is even greater considering that more than 70% of respondents also assist clubs in buying, selling or scouting players. Moreover, 15% of licensed agents admitted owning or having owned shares in players’ transfer rights. All these figures reflect the existence of intricate situations and possible conflicts of interest. The report authors are now calling for more transparency.
The full 82-page report may be downloaded for free from the CIES Football Observatory website on www.eurofootplayers.org/-Publications
For more information, please contact the authors at eurofootplayers(at)unine.ch
About the CIES Football Observatory
The CIES Football Observatory was set up in 2005 under the name of the Professional Football Players Observatory (PFPO). Since 2011, it is one of the cornerstones of the vast CIES Observatory project, dedicated to the statistical analysis of sport in all its diversity. As well as the realisation of two annual reports, the CIES Football Observatory regularly carries out mandates for various stakeholders of the football industry. Methodological rigor coupled with a deep knowledge of football guarantee high quality analyses at competitive rates. More information at www.eurofootplayers.org.