Do football agents owe any fiduciary duties to their clients?

Fiduciary duty

What is meant by a fiduciary duty?

Under the laws of England and Wales a fiduciary duty is imposed in circumstances where one party is in a vulnerable position as a result of having to place his trust and confidence in another party.

In what kind of relationships will there be a fiduciary duty present?

Under the laws of England and Wales a fiduciary relationship will exist in the following situations:

  • A relationship between a trustee and a beneficiary of that trust

  • A relationship between a director and a company

  • A relationship between partners involved in a partnership

  • A relationship between a solicitor and his client

  • A relationship between a principal and his agent

The responsibility of a football agent

a football agent is an individual who is appointed to act on behalf of a professional footballer in negotiating commercial contracts for that player. The commercial contracts can include the players playing contract with their respective clubs and their various sponsorship and promotional contracts with other bodies.

An agent operating in relation to English football must be an official FIFA licensed agent through the English Football Association.

Typically a footballer will pay an agent either by an agreed fixed fee or by a percentage, usually between 10 and 20% of any money earned by that player.

Individual or an agency

As is often the case in modern day football an individual footballer will be represented by a sports agency which employs a specific agent which will be dedicated to that individual player.

Do agents owe a fiduciary duty to their clients?

Looking at the above relationships which involve a fiduciary duty it would be reasonable to assume that a football agent would have a fiduciary duty to a footballer which he represents as the footballer would have to place all his trust and confidence in an agent when a contract is being negotiated. The agent will have the expertise and experience to negotiate the best terms and it is his job to arrange the best deal for his client.

Accordingly it has been held under the common law for England and Wales that a football agent has the following fiduciary duties to the client which he represents:

    The duty not to put himself in a position where his duties to his principal could conflict with his own interests The duty not to gain undisclosed economic benefit from his position as the principal’s agent This second duty is aimed specifically at dishonest practices often associated with football agents such as secret deals, bribes and bungs.

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For more information on:

  • Example of a football agent breaching his fiduciary duty to his client
  • What did the player do in this situation?
  • Why did the agent not tell his client?
  • What was the decision of the court in this case?