Can a football agent represent both a football player and a particular club in a transfer situation involving that player?

The role of football agents

The most widely known role of football agents is when an individual agent or an agency acts on behalf of an individual player in negotiating playing contracts and other commercial contracts for that player.

An agent will usually be paid by a percentage of the money that the player earns or by an annual fee.

Football agents owing a fiduciary duty to the players which they represent

It is a well established principle of the relationship between football agent and the football player which they represent that the agent owes the player a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of that player.

Can football agents also act on behalf of a football club?

Certain football clubs will also employ licensed agents to work on their behalf when negotiating a deal with a particular player. As agents will often have the required skills and understanding of how to negotiate deals with particular players it is often seen as a desirable position for a club to employ someone in this capacity.

Can the same agent act on the behalf of a player and a club wishing to sign that player?

It is in direct conflict with Article 19 of the FIFA Players’ Agents Regulations that a football agent represents both a player and a club in relation to the same deal.

What does Article 19 say?

Article 19 states the following:

A players’ agent may only represent the interests of one particular party per transaction. In particular a players’ agent is forbidden from having a representation contract, a cooperation agreement or shared interests with one of the other parties or with one of the other parties’ players’ agent involved in the player’s transfer or in the completion of the employment contract.

Why is this the case?

An agent is prohibited from acting on both sides of a negotiation as it is deemed to be a clear conflict of interest.

What is meant by a conflict of interest?

A conflict of interest occurs whereby an individual involved in something, in most cases a commercial deal, where they have an interest with both sides. a football agent clearly would be in breach of his fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the player which he is paid to represent if he is also representing the club negotiating with that player. A single agent would be unable to get the best deal for both the player and the club.

Does this happen that football agents often act on behalf of both parties?

It is felt to be quite a common occurrence in English football that an agent will act on the behalf of both of the parties.

Often if this is the case the agent will wish to receive the commission that he is due from the transfer fee from the club rather than the player.

Why is this the case?

From a tax point of view in the UK, if the commission were to be paid to the agent by the player then the player would be required to pay a high level of income tax.  In order to get around this the agent may wish to be paid by the club and may have to act creatively to make this a reality.

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For more information on:

  • How is this done?
  • Is this practice able to done under the Football Association Regulations applying specifically to the use of agents in English football?
  • Have there been any cases in English football where this has found to be the case?
  • What happens once the deal has been concluded?
  • Was this done in the above case?
  • What is the problem with the club doing this?