By Dan Chapman
With April 1st 2015 upon us, amidst much controversy, the FA Regulations on Working with Intermediaries has come into force. Adopting (albeit in parts enforcing more strictly) the mandate set down by the FIFA Regulations on Working with Intermediaries, the landscape for the football agency profession has changed.
This article does not intend to analyse the legal provisions of the new Regulations; that has been done at length elsewhere. What do these new Regulations actually mean for players?
In essence, the player now has more choice whom he instructs to represent him since there will be a lot more Registered Intermediaries than there were Licensed Agents or Registered Lawyers. Almost anyone who pays the FA fees will be able to become a Registered Intermediary. Choice is a good thing, yes? Perhaps so, but only if that choice is exercised wisely. It has always been hard for a player to make sure he appoints the right agent for him; the strength of the player/agent relationship is absolutely paramount to the success of that player’s career. How does he now, in what many have referred to as a ‘wild west’ scenario, ensure he makes the right choice?
Full Contact’s advice on the selection of one’s Registered Intermediary is as follows:
(1) First and foremost, check that the Intermediary is indeed registered with the FA. The list of Registered Intermediaries is available for inspection here.
(2) Consider whether the Intermediary actually has proven capability and knowledge of the professional football industry. If the Intermediary was a former Licensed Agent he or she would have had to pass exams and/or prove to his national federation his or her suitability to be granted a license; the fact the Intermediary previously held that status is therefore an indicator of proven experience and knowledge. Similarly, if the Intermediary was a FA Registered Lawyer, and one who specialised in sports law and/or representing footballers or football clubs, that stands as a significant indicator of proven capability and knowledge (and qualified solicitor or barrister status). The mere fact that someone has registered as an Intermediary – even if he was an ex-player or has worked within the football industry – is not any indicator of his capability. Ask him or her how familiar he/she is with the FA and FIFA Intermediary Regulations and what evidence he/she has of capability.
(3) Consider whether the Intermediary has a proven track record. Investigate the players that the Intermediary has or does represent and research their website and external sources for verifiable evidence of a track record and recent activity. Perhaps even ask the Intermediary if you can be put in touch with some of his/her current clients? The ability to successfully represent a player depends to a large extent on the representative’s contacts within the game; ensure that he or she is well connected.
(4) Consider the issue of security and insurance. Previously, all licensed agents were required to hold indemnity insurance but that is not the case for a Registered Intermediary. However, we would advise that players only engage an Intermediary who has some financial standing behind him/her. If the Intermediary is part of a law firm, or an established company with published accounts, you may be satisfied of the financial stability of your Intermediary.
(5) Check whether the Intermediary is also a member of the Association of Football Agents (the AFA). The AFA is a voluntary organisation that promotes the self-regulation and best practice of professional football agents. If your Intermediary is not a paid up and active member, you should be concerned and ask questions!
(6) Check whether the Intermediary has sought approval to act for Minors. As a default position, a Registered Intermediary can not act for a Minor (a player under 18). He or she can apply for additional clearance, however, to represent a Minor but to do so he/she must provide a Disclosure and Barring Service check (often referred to as its historical name – a CRB check). Whether or not you are a minor, ask yourself why a Registered Intermediary did not choose to seek Minor clearance? Did he/she not want to obtain or provide the CRB check? Why?
Much of the above is common sense. More importantly than ever, a player (and his family) need to do their research, ask questions and make sure they are appointing the right Registered Intermediary for them.
At Full Contact we do not fear the new regime; we welcome it. Our combination of former licensed agents with years of proven success and activity (Lee Payne) both as agents and as ex-players with specialist sports lawyers who have acted in the agency industry for some time (Dan Chapman) – allied with our law firm backing and AFA involvement means that we are confident that are pedigree speaks for itself.
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The spearhead and Senior Partner of Full Contact, Dan is an experienced solicitor and advocate, with a specialist background in employment law and sports.
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