In modern football, managers and players are not the only powerful people in the football world. These days, football agents are tasked with negotiating big money transfers, and making sure that they grasp the best possible deal for their clients. Also pocketing some crazy amount of cash themselves.
Agents have become more and more influential over the past few years, and it’s pretty obvious. They’re always around with some great players, negotiating with big clubs and most importantly, they’re working in the world’s most beautiful game’s industry.
Talking about Indian football, agents have become a very integral part of the industry now. Behind every successful Indian football player, you can be sure that there’s always an agent pulling strings in the best possible way for them and making sure that everything runs smoothly for his client.
IFTWC recently had an exclusive chat with Sonu Lamba, founder of FourFlags, which is currently India’s best football agency and they manage some famous players like Sunil Chhetri, Anirudh Thapa, Manvir Singh and many others.
“I’ve been following Indian Football for many years now and my love for it has always been there. Infact I started following European football very late, before that I was always into Indian football. Sunil Chhetri and I were friends from school days itself so when he signed for Mohun Bagan, I started following it even more than usual and even when I was into merchant navy, I always made sure that I always stay connected to sport” quoted Sonu while speaking exclusively to IFTWC.
Well, every great story will always have an great start as well and FourFlags’ start is also very interesting. When asked about how Sonu got into this industry, he quoted, “In 2013 when my daughter was born, I decided that I won’t go back to ship because then I wouldn’t have been able to spend time with my daughter and family. So I started figuring out what else I could do to earn a living for myself and my family. It so happened, that I was in Goa for a match between Churchill Brothers and Mohun Bagan and Churchill won the league after that match. So there was a news that George Mendes back then made more money than Ronaldo. So after that, I got really interested in knowing that how agents work in the industry and talking to footballers is something that I’ve always enjoyed. That’s when I saw an opportunity for myself and that’s what got me into this industry.”
In those days most things weren’t that professional in India football as they’re now. Most of the players had no idea about contracts and what they’re signing. Agencies weren’t that popular in those days and footballers used to negotiate with club’s representative themselves. “I remember, in those days it was never easy to work as an agent because there were very few footballers who were open to it. I League clubs would never agree to pay 5 percent agent’s commission as it relatively something very in Indian football so we had to take that commission from the player itself. Making the player understand that why hiring an agent is important was the very first thing we had to do because in those days the players always thought they can negotiate with the club themselves and there’s no point in hiring an agent for that kind of an work.” Said Sonu when asked about the problems he faced in his initial days as an agent.
Being an agent in India was something very uncommon in those days and it wasn’t as lucrative as it is right now. Making a player understand about the work of an agent and it’s benefits was probably the most difficult task for any agent in those days, because players weren’t even open to listen to what they’re being offered. When asked about how Sonu got his first athelete, he said, “Initially a lot of players rejected me. Infact there were many players who were my friends before I became an agent but they never were never really open to having an discussion about this. But, I don’t really blame them for that because it was obviously very awkward for them and also they were scared. So it was Senior Anwar Ali, who showed his faith in me and he became my first player. So it was definitely the most memorable signing for me and when a player like Anwar Ali signs it brings a lot of credibility. Then after that I signed a few more players, things we’re going slow but yes, we were in a good track.”
After the introduction of ISL, Indian football has seen a massive shift towards branding, social media. We have seen things becoming more professional and people have started taking a lot of interest in knowing everything related to Indian football. “The growth after the introduction of ISL is absolutely massive. Not only for us, but also for the clubs and players, social media has become very big. There has been a very rapid growth I must say. I always encourage my Athletes to be on social media but would always tell them not to be obsessed about it. I always tell all of them not to feel bad if someone has written something bad about them in an article, because if they’ve one good game after that then the same guys will love you. ISL has definitely done really well for the nation and I really hope that everyone working in this industry grows together” said Sonu while concluding.