Tony Blair was once asked what his three priorities are and he said "education, education, education".
And the same mantra is being urged by a new breed of football intermediaries who want to help educate the next generation coming into the industry.
They are setting up a 16 week online course to ensure the future deals players make are overseen by representatives who not only get the best deal for talent, but operate in an ethical and entrepreneurial manner.
“More people than ever are representing football players, yet unlike other trades or professions, there’s no formal training or mentoring for those becoming intermediaries. We want to create the industry standard of qualification to ensure the past poor reputation of this job is removed by ensuring quality through learning,” says Sam Stapleton, co-founder of Star Sports & Entertainment Ltd, who are the agency setting up the Football Further online training course.
“Since the industry was deregulated in 2015, the number of intermediaries has risen from roughly 400 to 1500. Subject to criminal checks and a one-off fee, anyone can now be an agent.
“But that growth has not necessarily delivered a growth in quality of service, because people who have come into the industry are not fully knowledgeable in how deals work and the way player deals are done. For example, promising players often have family members to act as their intermediaries, at least in the early stages of their career. They are well meaning, but they don’t understand the systems and processes.
“What we want to do with this 16 week session is help them understand and navigate their way through these processes and develop their critical thinking around the challenges they will face in this role.”
Sam hopes his experience as an agent, coupled with his experiences of the current educational offering in this area has helped shape an invaluable course with a practical qualification.
“I have over 15 years of experience having represented some well-known players like John Stones and Branislav Ivanovic as well as representing top level clubs across the globe. We have worked on both sides of the business and know how deals play out at all levels and how you balance the needs of the player and the desires of the club they end up at.
“Also, before I came into this industry I did a degree in Sports Management but I left as I was never convinced there was an educational path out there for football agents until we formed this course.
“You could end up paying £30k out on a University Degree in Sports Business and not get the understanding you need to be a football agent. We believe we can deliver that for a fraction of the price.”
The programme contains multimedia modules on subjects ranging from signing players as clients, how to manage media interest in a player and the key issues that come up during a contract negotiation.
The course can be taken in bite-size modules which are only released online after you complete the last one. A test will be taken at the end to ensure the learning is achieved as well as case studies and interviews with top people in the game relevant to the module.
And the course is just the start of opening new doors for new recruits, as Sam explains further: “There is new generation of agents that want the reputation of our industry to improve and we want to work together to help the business for all grow. There is enough business out there for all of us and opportunities in football are growing.
“One of the things we want to ensure with this course is that the knowledge is continuous. We will look to mentor and develop networking opportunities as well as run the online core offering.
“We will also offer support to anyone taking the course when they go on to manager players as well as help them set up their own companies if need be.”
Sam believes Football Further will help formalise the professionalism and create and overall improvement from the ground up as more and more people join the industry.
“Many people down the pub say they could be an agent and the truth is, they can. By creating this course, we want to make sure they are match fit for this exciting experience.” The Football Intermediary Course is just the start.
You can register your interest in the course now at www.footballfurther.com. There will be Early Bird discounts for those enrolling when it opens in March, with the first module being delivered mid-April.