As the Premier League transfer window is set to officially open next week, we’ve taken the opportunity to talk to football agent, Solicitor and Managing Director of ROAR Sport, Simon Dent, to get an insider’s view on all the wheelings and dealings set to go on behind the scenes in the coming weeks.
FFC: With so much talk surrounding Wayne Rooney potentially leaving Manchester United, what would your advice be to him if you were his agent?
If I was Rooney’s agent I’d advise him to stay at United. I think that it’s arguably the greatest club in the world, has the best training facilities and had the best coach in the last two decades.
I think he’d be ill advised to leave now as it is a new dawn at United and after all, the way they set up – it’s not dependent on just one man at the helm, there’s certainly a place for Rooney, even if it isn’t as a striker.
FFC: ‘Swap deals’ are often reported in the media but rarely come off – are they an invention of the papers or are these types of offers regularly on the table during negotiations?
In the last January window I was involved in a couple of deals where players were added into the equation.
The problem is that you then have, rather than two parties, a third who represents another player, so you could potentially be dealing with up to 10 people’s opinions and desires, which is the reason that very few money plus player deals ever happen. You’re never going to get 10 people in football to agree on anything.
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FFC: With the Financial Fair Play rules set to come in, will this be the last big-spending transfer window?
I don’t think that will be the case, there’s a lot more money coming into football and the reason FFP is coming in is actually for the clubs’ benefits, to balance the books.
I’m sure there are ways that clubs can be quite creative in disclosing what incomes are coming in and therefore what they can pay out on players.
Naming rights on stadiums, shirt deals, even sponsors on training kit – there are always ways for clubs to increase their income.
FFC: How far does an agent’s own agenda influence what they recommend a player to do?
If you’re a good agent, it shouldn’t influence you at all, but I can’t speak for other agents. I think in the industry itself, the best way to go about getting clients is through recommendation from players that you’ve done a good job for before.
And I think if your own personal goals and business objectives are the motivating factor in your work, your time as an agent will actually be very short lived.
There are certain clubs that have associations with agents but it would appear that has been the downfall of the club because they haven’t been given objective advice and someone has been advising them for their own interest.
FFC: With Luis Suarez trying to force a move by coming out in the press, is this something we are going to see more often with footballers?
Players are under the microscope more than ever, and it is partly down to the advent of social media – rumours, gossiping, hearsay – as they can’t move without anyone knowing what they’re doing. Having said that, players earn a lot of money, in my opinion, the right amount of money, because the top players at the top clubs do earn their club a lot of money and then some, so it does stack up from a business point of view.
Players do manipulate situations sometimes but I don’t think it happens as much as the supporters think it does. Any action can be manipulated or misinterpreted in the press as a player trying to get a certain outcome so it does happen, but not as much as we’re lead to believe.
FFC: What’s the latest on Gareth Bale – will he move or will he stay at Tottenham this season?
I think Gareth Bale is a good example of a fantastic talent who lets his feet do the talking; he also has a very good agent who obviously knows the marketplace well. I think it’s been handled well, I think there was only one misplaced interview with a Spanish radio station by a representative of Gareth Bale which went against the whole way that the situation has been dealt with.
Maybe the agent was caught with his guard down whilst on holiday, I’m not sure how that happened, but it didn’t seem like the best thing to do in my opinion. There have been no noises from the player at all and I think he is a valuable member of the Spurs squad, but as a business asset, if Tottenham can get £80million for him, in my opinion, they’d be foolish to turn that down.
If Gareth Bale stays and has the same kind of season he did last term, I think he will break the transfer fee world record. It’s going to be the biggest season of the Premier League ever, and if Gareth Bale does what he did last season, he will be the greatest ever asset in world football.
FFC: Is the relationship between agent and manager as strained as it often appears?
It can be, some managers are a pleasure to deal with, some are quite difficult to deal with but, that’s the same in any business.
The football world has changed hugely. It used to be managers that were ex-players relying on their web of contacts from the game who had their feet under the table at certain clubs. It used to be that it was massively an element of ‘jobs for the boys’ at clubs and as a result of that they could rely on each other around the country as a sort of football family.
Since the influx of foreign managers, foreign directors of football and obviously foreign players there’s a lot more accountability. Certainly for managers now it’s not just a case of being a fantastic player in the 70s because that doesn’t cut the mustard anymore. You’ve got guys coming in with degrees, who are master tacticians. Worryingly for a lot of the old school, a lot of it’s all down to stats now and if they’re not up to speed, or open-minded when it comes to statistics, they’re not going to get a job.
FFC: In your experience, are players more often motivated by money or by trying to better themselves?
95% of employed males in this country are probably motivated by money and I don’t think this is just football, it’s a fact of life.
FFC: How do you go about targeting a player as an agent?
There is a whole host of ways to target players. As an agent you can’t be at every single game, at every single school field in the country, so to a certain extent you rely on a web of contacts and the opinions of a number of other people a lot of the time.
It’s very much about keeping an eye on boys from the age of ten, by the age of 15 you get an inkling and certainly by the age of 18 you know whether they’re going to make it or not.
A lot of the time it’s not about the player it’s about the family – a father or an uncle. If you have clients that are happy, it may be that a conversation with an existing client will see a young player sign with a particular agent.
FFC: What are your predictions for the upcoming transfer window?
There’s been a lot of talk of Rooney, Suarez, Ronaldo, Bale but the most interesting moves and the boldest predictions I have would be – Ashley Williams leaving Swansea for Arsenal, Benteke going to Spurs, Skrtel leaving Liverpool (potentially to move to Manchester City) and if I’m really bold, I’d say Fellaini to United.
As for the Ronaldo/Bale saga, I think Real Madrid have the funds to do what they want, I don’t think Bale will have anything to do with whether Ronaldo will move to United. It’s whether the rumours of Ronaldo being unhappy in Madrid are true and whether the board at United want to make a massive statement before the upcoming season.
Simon Dent – Solicitor and Managing Director of ROAR Sport @Roarsport1
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