Football agent John Viola meets Luis Figo
A groundbreaking new course on how to become a soccer agent has seen apps skyrocket “800%” during the pandemic, according to its creator.
John Viola, 61, one of the first FIFA approved agents in the UK, told MailOnline he “felt like an advisor” after speaking to various people from all walks of life who quit their jobs for a new career in his industry.
And he believes the new influx of trained agents will benefit the game, saying professional footballers risk receiving poor advice from being represented by underqualified agents.
John said: âSo many people reassessed their lives during the lockdown. I’ve had bank managers, accountants, and bar workers tell me their careers are over and looking for something new.
“But the main thing is that they really want to become a football agent.”
John says that since FIFA, the governing body of world football, relaxed its rules in 2015, “virtually anyone can become an agent.”
Viola is pictured presenting a live session during her class at Queen’s Park Rangers Loftus Road, doing a recruiting role play with former footballer Paul McVeigh
Viola is pictured filming training equipment outside Hampden Park stadium in Scotland
Which means professional footballers employ underqualified people to represent them, which could have huge repercussions on their careers.
He says: âAnyone can become an agent now just by filling out a form and paying the English FA Â£ 600 – plus an additional Â£ 300 each year – and passing a fit and suitable person test.
âIt’s different in every country, but when I started 27 years ago it cost me Â£ 100,000 – which I had to borrow.
Alto seen with AndrÃ© SchÃ¼rrle the day he took him from Borussia Dortmund to Fulham
âI had to give it to FIFA as a deposit, go for an interview and take a test with my local federation. The rules have been relaxed considerably, for example, many players now bring in family members to represent them.
âUsing an inexperienced person in the family for such a high level job is a big risk. It could have a negative effect on a player’s career, but on the other hand, it could work very well – but that’s only possible if they have the right training.
âI have been a football agent for 27 years and I’m still learning. If someone thinks he can suddenly become a football agent overnight because his brother is a great footballer, he is wrong.
“They have a great opportunity, yes, but they still have to learn how to do the job right from someone expert – otherwise it could be a disaster.”
Explaining the ripple effect of bad advice, John adds: “Footballers don’t get the right contract, that’s the worst thing. They could be advised to join the wrong club and get stuck with them.
John, a former insurance broker raised in the East End of Glasgow, became a football agent in his mid-30s and worked on deals involving some of the biggest names in the sport, including former Real Madrid Galaticos Luis Figo and Roberto Carlos.
He also brought the World Cup winners to Rangers and the stars of Fulham and Real Madrid in the Premier League.
The Scotsman has created his own course, alongside his son Johnny, 26, and his nephew, business partner and agent Phil McTaggart, 42, to equip graduates with the skills to survive in the industry, and attracts also many current agents on board who recognize they need additional help.
Viola is pictured meeting one of her students and passing her knowledge on to Ghana
John said: âIt’s a very difficult job and nobody got the right education and that’s what I provide. I show people how to do their jobs in a professional and ethical manner with transparency.
“Throughout my course it’s about being professional and understanding what the company is about, the regulations regarding FIFA and the players, the clubs, because there has been a lot of bad press on the agents. , I teach them how to do their job properly.
âI think the important thing is that we’ve brought so many different people into the industry, from a white van to a doctor, from an accountant to a former adjudicator, male and female, it’s for everyone. It will surprise you, and the whole world.
The virtual course consists of 15 modules ranging from player identification and recruitment, club relationship building to the actual process of transferring a football player – and costs Â£ 497.
He also wrote an MBA and Masters in Football Agent Management alongside a professor called Vincent English, and offers a mentoring service.
John says that although the job of a football agent is hard work, he understands why it is seen as such a glamorous career.
He explains: âI’ve been to 82 countries, places I never dreamed of visiting. This is from a guy in the East End of Glasgow, I couldn’t spell some of these places. I leave a housing estate and I rub shoulders with Luis Figo and Roberto Carlos. And while nurturing new talent in the industry, he adds, âIt is an incredible feeling for me to help someone whose dream is to become an agent.
âSome people thought I could never do this job, we took them and a year or 18 months later they’re sitting in a boardroom and doing business at the highest level, which is an amazing feeling. for me.”
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