Friday, August 12, 2022

The tasks, skills, career path and earnings behind sport’s biggest names

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Shreya Christina
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Michael Ede, entrepreneur, football agent, MD/CEO of Uplift11 Sportthe UK’s fastest growing sports management agency.

Talent on the field is not enough to build a great career; star athletes need star agents behind them to act as promoters, negotiators and advisors. While every competitor is a brand, every agent is a brand manager. You have to be a scout, marketer, negotiator, advisor and friend at the same time – and that’s just for one client! A career as a sports agent is challenging, fast paced, stressful and immensely rewarding. If you’re a business executive looking to change careers or you’re already active in the athletics world and considering managing athletes, here’s what you need to know first.

Successful sports brokers can earn a lot of money.

Sports is a lot of money, especially for the star players. Agents generally work on commission, so the more their clients earn, the more they earn. In most international sports, the brokers and clients negotiate a rate between 1% and 10%. Some sports associations limit the maximum fees that agents can earn, while others do not. For example, FIFA plans to limit revenues to 3% of the player’s salary and 10% of the transfer fee from 2023.

Many tasks in different areas

Like many high-pressure jobs, being a sports agent has its perks, but it requires a tremendous amount of work. Agents perform various duties to represent their clients in business, legal and PR matters. Everything they do is focused on helping the players under their leadership advance their careers. Here are some of the responsibilities an agent is likely to perform.

• Act as talent scout, marketing manager and press director. Agents often act as scouts and travel to academies, high schools, and universities to find emerging players. They need a keen eye for talent and a deep knowledge of their sport to attract quality players. The press can be challenging to manage, but great agents can market their clients well. This often requires handling questions and arranging interviews. Depending on the customer, some agents also monitor or manage social media accounts on behalf of their players.

• Always look for new opportunities. Opportunities are around every corner and successful agents must look for them. Even if your client is already a member of a club, it is your responsibility to find alternatives to build their career and achieve their goals. Lucrative approvals await veteran players and the agents who know how to land them.

• Mediate in disputes. Agents advise, speak for and negotiate on behalf of their clients when involved in a disagreement. These disputes can arise between players and the brands that support them or even their clubs. As a result, the best agents have strong negotiation skills and an understanding of contract law.

• Become a tough negotiator. Contracts are legally binding documents; therefore agents need to understand how they operate. While they don’t have to be lawyers, they must ensure that contracts are properly formatted and comply with all relevant legal guidelines.

• Listen. As a trusted advisor, your athletes should be able to rely on you, but many people forget this. Agents need to see the person behind the statistics and media images. They need to listen to their customers and give the best, most thoughtful advice.

• Be an organized communicator. The essential skill for a sports agent is communication: communication and networking can provide alternatives, even if a broker’s other skills are lacking. Sports agents must manage their clients’ finances, contracts, assets and more. In the fast paced sports world, they may have to move quickly from one customer to another – an impossible task without organizational and communication skills.

6 steps to become a sports agent

While the exact procedure for becoming an agent varies from association to association, the general procedure is relatively uniform worldwide. As a fan of the sport, you can start building the required skills early on. Aspiring agents typically find that, even in associations that don’t require formal training, knowledge is key – and that requires hard work and dedication.

1. Know the sport inside out.

In short, the job of a broker is to place their clients with the clubs that pay the most. To do this, you need to know how to assess a team’s strategic prospects, the skills of their current roster, and whether your client can fill an unmet need at the club.

2. Consider getting legal experience.

You don’t need a law degree (although many sports agents have them), but you do need to be familiar with all applicable sports contract terminology and conventions. If you’re not a lawyer or attorney, you can’t provide legal advice, so you’ll be working with qualified professionals during negotiations or on allegations.

3. Get formal training.

Most sports clubs require a bachelor’s degree. The typical undergraduate degrees for agents include business management and sports management. Even in associations that do not require formal training, many agents obtain a graduate degree before entering the profession.

4. Gain industry experience.

Starting a career is hard, and being a sports agent is no different. Most agents start as an intern, either with an experienced independent agent or with an agency. Formal business training or legal requirements can help, but nothing can replace on-the-job training and seeing agents in action as an intern.

5. Obtain a license, certification or registration.

Each association has its own requirements for registration, and there is almost always a fee, exam, and criminal background check. For example the FA charges £500 ($615) and requires you to pass a “test of good character and reputation”. MLB requires a fee of £1,600 ($2,000) and an exam on the competition’s many rules and regulations, for which they offer a preparatory course.

6. Get into the game.

Agents need customers. Every lead on a good prospect can be valuable, so tap into your professional network, browse online job boards, talk to other agents, send your resume to agencies – whatever you put out there. Business Council is the leading growth and networking organization for entrepreneurs and leaders. Am I eligible?

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