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Agents and representatives

A player should carefully consider the need for a representative. The representative’s backgrounds should also be investigated carefully.

The Football Association of Finland’s regulations on representatives entered into force on 1 July 2015. A player’s representative can be a natural legal person, i.e. a real person, or an artificial legal person, i.e. a company. Their reputation must be flawless, which in practice means that the company or individual must not be bankrupt or generally unfit to conclude agreements.

It is also highly likely that persons with a sentence for severe economic or capital crimes or doping crimes are unfit to serve as representatives. Also, representatives may not be in a contractual relationship with the league, association, a continental federation such as UEFA or FIFA, which might result in conflicts of interest due to said position and position as a representative.

Representation activity is concerned when the representative offers services which aim to conclude an agreement between the player and a club. The same applies to transfer agreements. A player and a club always have the right to use a representative. It is essential that whenever a representative agreement has ben concluded, the representative must register the agreement in the association of the country in question. In Finland, the Football Association of Finland registers the representatives, and the representatives agree to comply with the regulations on representatives upon registration. This is legally important because, as a rule, the representative is otherwise only bound by the agreement between the player and the club, which can be completely unilateral from the player’s point of view. After registration, the representative is also bound by the representative regulations of the Football Association of Finland. If you intend to use the services of a representative, always conclude the agreement in writing. If a player concludes a contract before the age of 18, their legal guardian, which usually means the player’s parents, must sign the contract for it to become valid.

A representative agreement is a law of obligations agreement, and everything written in the agreement is also binding on the undersigned. Therefore, it is not indifferent what kind of an agreement the player enters into.

Important tips that can be useful before or after concluding an agreement

  • Investigate the counterparty’s background
  • Which player transfers has the representative made?
  • Does the representative have prior experience of transfers of Finnish or Scandinavian players?
  • Does the representative operate regionally (only in Northern Italy, for example), and which partners does the representative have in different countries?
  • Does the representative primarily only work towards certain clubs (such as Parma), i.e. which party, the new club or you, does the representative ultimately represent in practice?
  • How does the representative understand the requirements of your player position and how does he understand your strengths and weaknesses as a player, and how does the representative see the development path of your career?
  • If the representative represents or has represented Finnish or Scandinavian players, call them and ask how it has worked.
  • Determine for yourself why you need a representative and what you wish the representative to do.
  • You should remember that the representative primarily operates from a commercial starting point.
  • Before signing an agreement, you should find out if the representative has the ability to cooperate, as player transfers are often the sum of cooperation between many parties (old club, new club, player and representatives of all of these parties).

If the chemistry is not working from the start, you should consider binding yourself to the representative. If the background is in order and you decide to conclude a representative agreement, think about the following things for the agreement:

Contracting parties. If the contracting party is a party other than the representative (such as their company), you should find out the company’s background.

Who will fulfil the representative’s contractual obligation? If the contracting party is a company, it should be entered in the agreement which private individual is obligated to fulfil the representative’s obligations. Otherwise, the company can appoint “any person” to do so.

Which country’s “resident” is the contracting party? In case of disputes with the representative, it is very important to define which country’s legislation will be applied in the resolution of disputes and where and in which language.

Term of the agreement. If you do not know the representative beforehand, do not enter into a very long agreement. If the representative fails to fulfil the assumed obligations towards you, negotiate a clause concerning the termination of agreement in a fixed-term agreement so you can get rid of the agreement if things are not working.

Agree on the amount of the fee in detail. According to the regulation on representatives, the representative’s fee must be calculated based on the gross earnings of the player during the entire duration of the agreement. The recommended fee is 3%. However, this is only a recommendation. Especially if making an agreement with a foreign representative, the agreement should define in more detail what the fee is comprised of, i.e. from which remuneration paid to you (monthly wages, housing benefit, company car, point-based rewards, bonuses, signing bonus etc.) must the fee be paid and how much, when and for which period (e.g. If the player contract is valid for three years but the representative agreement only or one year, are you under an obligation to pay the fee for the two years when the representative agreement is not even valid?) According to the regulations on representatives, all fees must be reported to the Football Association of Finland, and the Football Association of Finland annually publishes the total sums of fees paid to representatives.

Taxation. Check if value added tax will be added to the representative’s fee and whether you are liable to pay it, and whether you can deduct the representative’s fee paid in your own taxation. If the contracting party is the resident of a country other than the one where you will work. Be careful! If the representative is in an employment relationship with you, be particularly careful, as the agreement can become extremely costly.

Resolution of disputes. You should consider which party will resolve any future disputes. This could be a court of arbitration or general court of first instance or parties offered by football federations (NDRC), FIFA’s bodies (PSC) or the international Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Usually, football’s own bodies will be the most affordable, and courts of arbitration the most expensive.

Specify the representative’s obligations and limits of authority in detail. What the representative is authorised to do and agree on your behalf and what not, and how the representative should act. You should never authorise the representative to conclude agreements on your behalf.

Termination. Representative agreements are primarily fixed-term. You should negotiate a clause on termination to be included in the agreement. A two-year agreement with “someone you don’t know” is a long one for someone aged 17–25, especially if nothing concrete happens.

Language of the agreement. It should be defined in the agreement which language will take priority in interpreting the agreement text and agreement.

Exclusive right. Does only the representative have the right to represent you, i.e. are you excluding other parties? Representative agreements are usually exclusive agreements, but you should consider whether you can give exclusive rights immediately without seeing what will happen.

Try-out camps and other similar terms and conditions. Representatives usually “sell” their services to young players by promising them try-out camps. Consider how many of these there should be, and if they are agreed on, record them in the agreement. However, remember that many club visits are “arranged” demonstrations that do not factually even aim for professional contracts. Think for yourself whether it is in your interests to transfer right now. Continuous “demonstrations or camps” can also be detrimental, at least if there are big differences between the clubs’ division levels, as scouts talk with each other. If you are promised camps and they are important to you, negotiate a termination clause in the agreement if there are not any camps in spite of the promises.

According to the representative regulations, no fees may be charged to those aged under 18. If you are 16, think about what interests the representative could have working on your behalf.

Agentit voivat edistää isosti uraa, mutta heidän kanssaan kannattaa olla tarkkana. Nykypäivän kasvavilta agenttimarkkinoilta löytyy toimijoita laidasta laitaan. 

Hannu Tihinen, Palloliiton pelaajakehityspäällikkö