Football is the world's biggest sport in terms of following and money. In the modern world of football, players and managers are not the only important people anymore. Sometimes, agents are much more important as shown by the revolution brought on by Jorge Mendes at Wolves. Agents are tasked with all of their client's off-field activities like, negotiating contracts, endorsements, handling a social image etc.
While the importance of football agents in modern times is immense, Bangladesh hasn't yet properly caught up to the world in this regard. Footballers and clubs in Bangladesh still opt to directly work with each other instead of employing proper agents which has led to the creation of many wage related scandals and problems.
Amit Hassan, the director of Leo Entertainment and Sports Management, is one of the leading football agents in Bangladesh. In this special interview with The Business Standard, he talks about the struggles and problems a football agent has to face while working in Bangladesh.
TBS: How have you been coping with the Covid-19 pandemic in your personal and in your businesses?
Amit : Me and my family have been so far staying healthy in the pandemic but it has had a very big negative impact on my businesses. All of my businesses are entertainment related, from sports (Leo Entertainment and Sports Management) to food (Madchef and Cheez). The pandemic has had a very negative financial impact on the entertainment industry and my case is not different.
TBS : Why did you not purse on to become a professional footballer or a manager?
Amit: I was a very good player in my younger years and even tried out for Abahani. But in Bangladesh, parents hesitate to let their children pursue football as a career as it doesn't guarantee a good return. That's why after playing a few professional games at 19, I gave up on being a football player.
TBS: How did you get into being a sports agent and how successful has your agency, Leo Entertainment been?
Amit: I joined a sports agency in the later part of 2014 but they mostly focused on cricket. So I decided to go about my own direction and after a few years I left and joined Leo Entertainment as a director.
We've cracked a lot of deals with Bashundhara Kings and last year we were able to arrange an event with YKK Japan where the coach of Real Madrid Foundation came to Bangladesh to coach underprivileged children. This has been a very big achievement for my company.
TBS: What are some restrictions that you had to face while working as a football agent?
Amit: First of all, Bangladeshi footballers still don't know how agents work. There are lots of superstitions out there that agents will run away with their money.
Clubs also avoid working with agents as working with a player directly is a cheaper option. Sometimes when I bring a foreign player, clubs try to contact him directly and set his wages. As a result the agent misses out on his commission.
The recent deal that Jamal Bhuiyan did with Apex was done by me. Most players and companies do not understand how much agents can help them out in terms of advertising.
Agents can also help players become commercially more viable off the field as well through social media. But most of them are yet to realise this fact.
All I can say is that I'm trying to change this and make the football scene of Bangladesh more commercially viable and more attractive.
TBS :What players do you have on your books and how is it like working with them?
Amit : We work with players like Zidan Miah, Sanjay Karim and Joseph Rahman. The local players are not that sellable that's why we try to work with foreign players who can represent Bangladesh.
TBS:Why do think Agents are important in Bangladeshi football?
Amit: We can make the football in Bangladesh better by making the league more commercially viable and increasing viewership. If we can arrange deals for better foreign players than our players will improve. Thus, the standard of Bangladeshi football will improve. The ISL have been successful in this regard and they have done it through their agent culture.
TBS: Whats your biggest aspiration?
Amit: I want to pursue two things. I want my company to grow and I want to get all of the coaching badges. I aim to get a job in the US before the 2026 world cup. I want to become experienced overseas and then come back to Bangladesh if they offer me something nice.