Football Agents in the biggest five European football markets: An empirical research report

Football Agents in the biggest five European football markets: An empirical research report

Lankaster Lecture Theatre (University College London)
Medawar Building,
Malet Place (off Torrington Place),
London WC1
Wednesday 29th February 2012 at 6pm

(For directions click here)

Given by: Dr. Giambattista Rossi, Research Fellow, Birkbeck Sport Business Centre


In this seminar presentation Giambattista Rossi presents the results of a study undertaken on behalf of the CIES Football Observatory, University of Neuchatel, on football agent activity in Europe. The detailed report reveals that the yearly turnover for football intermediaries in UEFA member national associations is around £400m. 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.

71% of agents 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, organizing 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” of working relationships 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 generating profit in the future from onward transfers. While promising players can also take advantage of this situation, the pressure that intermediaries may exert on them in this regard 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 in 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 in how player agents operated their business.


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


Raffaele Poli

Raffaele Poli is the co-founder and director of the CIES Football Observatory. He holds a PhD in the human sciences from the University of Neuchâtel (Switzerland) Franche-Comté (France). He is also scientific collaborator at the International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) of the University of Neuchâtel (Switzerland) and Franche-Comté (France). As scientific collaborator at CIES, he is in charge of the Observatory’s general management, communication and strategic development.

Giambattista Rossi

Giambattista Rossi joined the Sport Business Centre in 2006 as PhD student. Previously, he completed a BSc in Economics at Catholic University of Sacred Heart in Milan and an MSc in Sport Studies at University of Stirling. In May 2008, he was responsible for co-organising the “Feet Drain” conference hosted by the Birkbeck Sport Business Centre that examined labour market migration in the football industry. In January 2011, he was funded with the Joao Havelange Research Scholarship awarded by the CIES (International Centre of Sport Studies) to research the activity of football player agents within the top five European football leagues. Giambattista’s main research interest is labour markets in professional sports. In January 2012 he was awarded his PhD at Birkbeck College, University of London.

Contact Details

For further details on this seminar series contact:

Sean Hamil
Department of Management
Birkbeck College
Malet Street

Tel: 020-7631 6763

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