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Sam Stapleton Mr Agent column on art of transfer deals

Mr Agent: Transfer deals are a bit like spinning plates… up in the air

Mr Agent: Sam Stapleton

Sam
Stapleton, an FA licensed players' agent and co-founder of Star
Management Signings Ltd (right), has signed up for Sportsmail to give
our readers an agent's insight into the transfer window and football's
big talking points.

Read his thoughts on what is proving a busy January transfer window…

In this game you have to ensure that you have as many deals up in the air as you possibly can. Perhaps they will all come off, perhaps only one comes off or you may not have any that come off at all.

As I look at our whiteboard in the office we have completed three deals currently and we have a further 10 'up in the air'. Very similar to spinning plates I imagine. You need to keep your eye on all of them and try not to drop any. They all need as much attention as each other.

We are, of course, working towards a deadline at the end of the month, however a few of our current 'plates' are in China and Turkey. Both countries remain open after our transfer window closes.

Up in the air: Mr Agent has many transfer deals on the go in what is a busy period

Up in the air: Mr Agent has many transfer deals on the go in what is a busy period

This becomes a bit of an issue to a UK club; if they lose a player outside of the window then they cannot add to their squad to replace them, unless of course you are in the Football League, in which case you could try to loan a player.

As an agency it’s hard to predict your yearly cashflow. Money always comes in to the company around February and September. One year you may have a good year, the next may be bad but you have to try and juggle things to make it work. I know how much it costs to run our company a year with our employee salaries, travel, mobile phone bills, office space etc, and we use that as a starting point. It doesn’t alter a great deal, year to year.

We therefore go out and try to earn as much money above that starting point as possible.

An issue that I feel has got worse over the years is when clubs don't pay us. In fact to say that they ‘don't pay’ is probably slightly unfair, they do pay the amounts that have been agreed but it takes them a very long time.

MR AGENT ON TWITTER

Click here to follow StarMSignings

Payments to agents are very much bottom of the priority list, which I’m sure most of you probably agree with but in any line of work it makes it very hard to run a business when you are due a certain amount of money on one day and you receive it close to six months later.

Some clubs have their financial issues and therefore can’t pay until they are rectified but others have the money and simply choose not to pay it.

However, there are some clubs that pay on time or within days of when they are meant to. I’ve actually had a club call me to chase an invoice that I hadn’t sent on the day that a fee was due! This creates such a positive feeling for us and makes us want to work with that club in the future.

If I have a player that is wanted by two similar clubs and they are offering him similar wages, then I'm going to suggest the club that I know is going to pay everything on time.

Technology is always advancing in football, on the pitch, off the pitch and not just in football clubs but in the agency world as well.

We are always looking at ways of trying to improve and make things better.

Technology has driven scouting forward

Scouting at clubs has come on leaps and bounds with the use of technology.

A scout can now write a match report or a player report on his Blackberry or iPad either during a game or immediately after and the manager and chief scout can have the report in his inbox before he wakes in the morning.

You can call clubs in the Premier League and mention a player and within minutes the sporting director can tell you all about the player and if they like him or not, based on scouting reports that have been done over the past few seasons, although you would be surprised at how many don’t do this.

Scouting departments are so very important and technology is a huge part of this. As an agency we used to have to send out VHS tapes to clubs in order for them to look at a player that we suggested. Clubs must have had one room that was full of video tapes! Obviously it has now progressed to DVDs which takes up a lot less space and doesn’t cost as much to send, however, we now have the next step which is inevitably using the internet.

We use a system called Wy-Scout, that can be found at www.wyscout.com.

We have access to the majority of games across the world online. Many clubs also employ the same system so they can simply download the games of the players that we have discussed.

Gone are the days of asking, and waiting, for players to send their game DVDs in order for us to make a highlights reel or to send the games on. It makes everything so much quicker.

I wonder what the next step will be

Pack in the play acting, Pepe…

Last night I was in Madrid watching the first El Clasico of 2012, slightly ashamed to say that it was my first one since starting in this business almost nine years ago.

Amazing atmosphere. Real Madrid is truly an incredible club, any player who has the opportunity to be a part of the club is very lucky.

Leave it out: Mr Agent felt Pepe's play-acting was embarrassing

Leave it out: Mr Agent felt Pepe's play-acting was embarrassing

Saying that, it incenses me to see a player like Pepe behaving like he did, faking injury to an embarrassing degree. Does he not realise that the whole world is watching the game and watching numerous replays and different angles

I'm sure the manager will have a word with him.

Busy weekend

Arriving back into the UK today for a meeting this afternoon with a Premier League club and then dinner with a manager from a Championship club.

On Saturday I’m off to watch Spurs Youth take on Leicester Youth in the morning as we helped bring in a couple of Lithuanian youth players to Leicester that are doing very well and then to Reading v Hull to watch Kaspars Gorkss and Robert Koren.

See you next week…

Sam Stapleton agent column on return of January transfer window

Mr Agent: So it all begins again… but believe me, we've been very busy!

Mr Agent: Sam Stapleton

Sam
Stapleton, an FA licensed players' agent and co-founder of Star
Management Signings Ltd (right), has signed up for Sportsmail to give
our readers an agent's insight into the transfer window and football's
big talking points.

Read his thoughts on what will be a busy January transfer window…

MR AGENT ON TWITTER

Click here to follow StarMSignings

So the January window is upon us again. People often ask me: 'what does an agent do outside of the window'

A fair question given the summer window closes at the end of August and doesn't reopen until New Year's Day, leaving four months without being able to bring money into the company through transfers.

But, believe me, there is plenty to be getting on with. During this time we are out there trying to sign new talent, build relationships with clubs and personnel, all in preparation for the next window.

There are a lot of games to be watched and the air miles soon stack up.

Now January has arrived, the focus shifts to moving players on, both here and abroad.

In my experience, January has always been a strange window and it is always hard to predict how it will go for our agency. We can do as many deals as we did in the summer window but the level of income seems to be a lot lower.

Most clubs tend to look towards the loan market and cheaper options, simply to add to their squad rather than rebuild it in such a short space of time.

Obviously, there are a few exceptions to this rule with some of the big clubs but generally there's nowhere near as much money spent.

There are deals to be made in China

At the moment, we are working on a few deals at both Premier League and Championship level. We're also busy with a few pre-contracts with players overseas who are available on a free in the summer and some loan deals too.

We also pay a lot of attention to other international federations whose seasons are set to start, with this window their equivalent to our summer window.

China, Russia, USA, even Uzbekistan – these countries all present us with good opportunities for our players.

Deal made in China: Chelsea's Nicolas Anelka has joined Shanghai Shenhua

Deal made in China: Chelsea's Nicolas Anelka has joined Shanghai Shenhua

China, in particular, are spending a lot more money now and looking to bring players with real quality to their league – as already proven with Nicolas Anelka.

As an agency based in the UK, this means that we have to work with local agents within these areas.

This can be difficult at times but you try to work through everything in order to get the deal done for the player.

I have just returned from Dubai after talking to a few clubs out there and, of course, managed to get a couple days in the sun… the New Year's fireworks at the Burj Khalifa were quite incredible!

The going can get tough for some players

Our players are half way through their season now. Some have done very well so far and there are others who have found the going tough.

In the summer, difficult decisions have had to be made and only at the end of the season do we know if those decisions have been the right ones.
Kaspars Gorkss has been doing exceptionally well at Reading, while Robert Koren is having a very good season at Hull.

Improving: Blackburn's Radosav Petrovic

Improving: Blackburn's Radosav Petrovic

But on the other side of the scale, Zoltan Gera has picked up a nasty injury after a promising start on his return at West Brom and is sadly now out for the season.

It is also difficult for a player to travel to the UK from abroad and settle quickly in the Premier League.

Radosav Petrovic, for instance, has endured difficult start to life at Blackburn.

Ideally, a player needs a transitional stage but he was played straight away and struggled to adapt to the pace of the game.

But, after a period on the bench for a few games, he has had more time to adapt and impressed in the New Year's Eve win against Manchester United. So we look to him to improve more in time.

It's almost identical to Marko Futacs at Portsmouth. The big striker has bided his time and got his first start since arriving from Werder Bremen in the summer this week against Leicester.

His hold up play was very good and he scored a good goal. He then repeated his success against Watford with a header.

Two goals in two starts isn’t bad but it's up to him now to keep improving, adapting and keep his place in the team. What better opposition than Chelsea in the FA Cup this weekend to do this…

We're not all 'parasites'…

Agents, as a whole, get a fair bit of bad press and were recently called ‘parasites’ and ‘spivs’ by Liberal Democrat MP Bob Russell.

Comments: Liberal Democrat MP Bob Russell

Comments: Liberal Democrat MP Bob Russell

To be honest, it always makes me laugh when people who know nothing about what goes on in the industry jump to conclusions based on ambiguous figures that are published.

To label all agents 'parasites and spivs' frankly surprises me as I would have thought a politician knows all about being tarnished with the same brush

In fact, in one instance recently, we gave the agency fee to our player in order to help him with his salary and, on another occasion, we took money off an agency fee in order to make sure a loan move went through as the club was looking for a loan fee.

As an agency it really isn't all about picking up agency fees. It's about developing our clients and making sure that they are at the right club and on the right path.

FA Cup of plenty

I will look to keep you up to date with all that's going on within our agency over the next few weeks during the January window.

Enlarge

Star Management Signings

This Friday I'm off to Anfield to watch Liverpool take on League One side Oldham to see how Josh Parker does for the Latics.

Then, on Sunday, I'm at Stamford Bridge for Chelsea's third round FA Cup tie against Portsmouth to hopefully see Marko Futacs continue his good run.

Till next week…

Sir Alex Ferguson"s 25 years at Manchester United: The landmark matches

Landmark Manchester United matches for Ferguson as he celebrates 25 years in job

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The first of many: Sir Alex Ferguson watches the action at the Manor Ground in 1986

GAME 10 – Manchester Utd 4 Newcastle 1 (January 1987)

Peter Jackson gave the Red Devils a fast start with a flying header – past his own goalkeeper.

NormanWhiteside added a second and though the Magpies pulled one back, Frank Stapleton and Jesper Olsen completed victory in a match notable for Kevin Moran being forced off after swallowing his tongue.

GAME 50 – Manchester Utd 2 Bury 1 (November 1987)

A League Cup fourth-round tie but this was in the days before players were rested. Brian McClair and Norman Whiteside scored in an unconvincing win.

United were knocked out in the next round and despite a second-place finish in the league, Ferguson had already decided major changes were needed.

GAME 100 – Manchester Utd 2 Nottingham Forest 0 (December 1988)

The pre-glory era was in full swing, with Fergie”s Fledglings and Ralph Milne, who scored in this game, added to the mix.

Jim Leighton had been installed as keeper, Mark Hughes had been broughtback from Barcelona and teenager Lee Sharpe was playing at full-back.

Magic moments: Eric Cantona scores against Nottingham Forest

Magic moments: Eric Cantona scores against Nottingham Forest

GAME 250 – Manchester Utd 0 Liverpool 0 (October 1991)

Two trophies already bagged, Peter Schmeichel in goal, United”s first title-winning side beginning to take shape, even if there was some nasty pain to experience at the end of this season as Ferguson”s team collected one point from four games in eight days to hand the title to Leeds.

GAME 500 – Manchester Utd 2 Manchester City 1 (February 1996)

Now United are on a roll. Title drought over, a double won, the “Class of 92” about to prove you can win anything with kids and Eric Cantona”s ban served. Sharpe on target in this one after the Frenchman had converted a penalty. Another step towards another double.

GAME 750 – Manchester Utd 5 Anderlecht 1 (September 2000)

Andy Cole bags a hat-trick as United begin another European odyssey, their thrilling triumph over Bayern Munich in the Nou Camp and the treble it sealed as well still only 16 months old.

GAME 1,000 – Manchester Utd 2 Lyon 1 (November 2004)

Ferguson”s place amongst the managerial greats is already assured, although arguably the best is still to come.

He did not know it at the time but United are heading for a fall.

Twelve months after Ruud van Nistelrooy headed home the winner in this landmark game, they would be out in the group stages, Roy Keane would be sacked and Vodafone would quit as sponsors.

Landmark game: Ruud Van Nistelrooy heads home against Lyon on 2004

Landmark game: Ruud Van Nistelrooy heads home against Lyon on 2004

GAME 1,250 – Manchester Utd 1 Everton 0 (January 2009)

Somehow fitting Cristiano Ronaldo, who as much as anyone launched United into their present golden era, should score the only goal from the penalty spot.

United were on their way to completing another hat-trick of titles but they were about to encounter an improving Barcelona team who would go down as one of the greats.

Sir Alex Ferguson at 70: The landmark Manchester United matches

Fergie at 70: Landmark United matches for long-serving boss

Sir Alex Ferguson celebrates his 70th birthday this weekend.

He is still going strong as manager of Manchester United, after joining the club in 1986.

We look at the landmark matches in Ferguson”s time at Old Trafford.

GAME 1 – Oxford 2 Manchester Utd 0 (November 1986)

It is a measure of how long Ferguson has been in charge that the Manor Ground no longer exists and Oxford have crashed out of the league and come back again.

John Aldridge scored a penalty and Neil Slatter added another in a deserved win for the hosts.

The first of many: Sir Alex Ferguson watches the action at the Manor Ground in 1986

The first of many: Sir Alex Ferguson watches the action at the Manor Ground in 1986

GAME 10 – Manchester Utd 4 Newcastle 1 (January 1987)

Peter Jackson gave the Red Devils a fast start with a flying header – past his own goalkeeper.

NormanWhiteside added a second and though the Magpies pulled one back, Frank Stapleton and Jesper Olsen completed victory in a match notable for Kevin Moran being forced off after swallowing his tongue.

GAME 50 – Manchester Utd 2 Bury 1 (November 1987)

A League Cup fourth-round tie but this was in the days before players were rested. Brian McClair and Norman Whiteside scored in an unconvincing win.

United were knocked out in the next round and despite a second-place finish in the league, Ferguson had already decided major changes were needed.

GAME 100 – Manchester Utd 2 Nottingham Forest 0 (December 1988)

The pre-glory era was in full swing, with Fergie”s Fledglings and Ralph Milne, who scored in this game, added to the mix.

Jim Leighton had been installed as keeper, Mark Hughes had been broughtback from Barcelona and teenager Lee Sharpe was playing at full-back.

Magic moments: Eric Cantona scores against Nottingham Forest

Magic moments: Eric Cantona scores against Nottingham Forest

GAME 250 – Manchester Utd 0 Liverpool 0 (October 1991)

Two trophies already bagged, Peter Schmeichel in goal, United”s first title-winning side beginning to take shape, even if there was some nasty pain to experience at the end of this season as Ferguson”s team collected one point from four games in eight days to hand the title to Leeds.

GAME 500 – Manchester Utd 2 Manchester City 1 (February 1996)

Now United are on a roll. Title drought over, a double won, the “Class of 92” about to prove you can win anything with kids and Eric Cantona”s ban served. Sharpe on target in this one after the Frenchman had converted a penalty. Another step towards another double.

GAME 750 – Manchester Utd 5 Anderlecht 1 (September 2000)

Andy Cole bags a hat-trick as United begin another European odyssey, their thrilling triumph over Bayern Munich in the Nou Camp and the treble it sealed as well still only 16 months old.

Landmark game: Ruud Van Nistelrooy heads home against Lyon on 2004

Landmark game: Ruud Van Nistelrooy heads home against Lyon on 2004

GAME 1,000 – Manchester Utd 2 Lyon 1 (November 2004)

Ferguson”s place amongst the managerial greats is already assured, although arguably the best is still to come.

He did not know it at the time but United are heading for a fall.

Twelve months after Ruud van Nistelrooy headed home the winner in this landmark game, they would be out in the group stages, Roy Keane would besacked and Vodafone would quit as sponsors.

GAME 1,250 – Manchester Utd 1 Everton 0 (January 2009)

Somehow fitting Cristiano Ronaldo, who as much as anyone launched United into their present golden era, should score the only goal from the penalty spot.

United were on their way to completing another hat-trick of titles but they were about to encounter an improving Barcelona team who would go down as one of the greats.