Last week, Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini declared in a press conference that he didn’t know when star striker Carlos Tévez would return to England.
Hours later, Tévez’s adviser Kia Joorabchian told Sky Sports that the Argentinian would be back in time for yesterday’s game against Chelsea.
The fact that Tévez’s agent seemed to be more informed about the situation than his manager is perhaps a sign of the times, with agents having more power and influence over players than ever before.
However, not all football agents are of the same ilk or fame as Joorabchian – most do their jobs on a much smaller scale.
Alvaro Blasco is a Spanish solicitor who has been running his own law firm in Maynooth since 2005.T he firm specialises in all aspects of Spanish law, including conveyancing and probate, and sports representation.
While Spanish law remains his core business, he is countering the shortage of legal work by acting as a Fifa-registered football agent. His most active case at the moment centres on 22-year-old Cork native Brian McCarthy, who plays for Athlone Town but has been on trial with Atletico Madrid.
While Blasco admitted that there was very little money to be made as a football agent in Ireland, he also said that there was a market for agents to help players and clubs.
“When you think that there are about 100 Irish players involved with Premier League clubs, then you realise that Ireland is such a great nest of football players,” he said.”I believe the football industry in Ireland, Spain and Britain, or indeed anywhere else, necessitates agents who can build, grow and maintain relationships on a number of levels, from players to coaches to sport directors”.
“It is all about trusting in the players you have, and guiding them into reaching their full potential.
How each agent achieves that may be different. Our interest is to provide an integral service which will cover every aspect of the professional career: legal, commercial, tax planning, coaching, communications skills and planning for the future.”
Blasco said his love of the game, combined with his career as a lawyer, made becoming a Fifa-registered agent an easier choice.
“Already having a love for football, along with my legal background, I knew that this was a career choice that I was ready to undertake at the right time,” he said.’ ‘In addition to my skills, passion and education, I have built key relationships over the years with colleagues in various clubs in Spain – eg, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Valencia – and, in more recent times, with some English and Irish clubs.”
Blasco’s plan for the future of Irish football involves convincing more Irish players to go to Spain instead of England, bringing Spanish players to Ireland to improve the international flavour of Irish football, linking Irish clubs to Spanish clubs (he has already done this with Bohemians and Atletico Madrid), and bringing Spanish clubs here for pre-season friendlies.
He believes that agents are vital for young players starting in their careers, to ensure that the players get the best deals.
“It is extremely important to be managed by the right people, somebody who is willing to explain to you the real picture and the possible outcomes, without creating unrealistic expectations. Many players with great skills never reach their full potential, due to a lack of education or mismanagement.”
He said that 2008 was the start of a period of tremendous change over how clubs drafted contracts and what they were willing to offer young people. “It is vital and necessary for the agent to protect clubs and players, and manage to instil self-confidence.
The main problem with clubs is that they are focused on winning titles without always having a proper business plan or time to nurture the career of a player. On the other hand, there is not much loyalty from players either.”
Blasco said that, when situations such as that involving Tévez arose, it could usually be traced back to a financial explanation.
“There is a huge uncontrolled business around certain clubs, especially in South America, where the young players are controlled by big companies,” he said.
“The clubs in financial difficulties look for sponsorship of players by selling their federation rights. It is a very profitable business for many companies, but the result is that a player like Carlos Tévez is not free to decide his future, due to his previous commitments.”
Blasco said he also believed that there was a solid future ahead for many Irish players, and that things should improve further over the next few years.’ ‘I would love to see more Irish players coming to Spain. Certainly, I will be working hard to achieve that goal,” he said.