Our latest Industry Insider sees us venture into the world of sports agency as we sit down with Roc Nation Sports’ Executive Vice President and Global Head of Football, Alan Redmond!
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
My name’s Alan Redmond and I’m a Dubliner who moved to the UK as a teenager. I have four children and a wife who’s a stained-glass artist. I’m the Executive Vice President and Global Head of Football at Roc Nation Sports International. I passed the FIFA agents exam several years ago and moved into football agency. After years as an independent agent, I joined Roc Nation in 2020.
What do you do in your current role?
I scout and sign professional football players around the world. I negotiate contracts for our players whether that involves transfers or renewals. I oversee Roc Nation’s football operations globally, having recently expanded our football business into the USA and Brazil. I also get involved in everything from brokering transfers to advising investors on club acquisitions.
“Normal” isn’t a thing in sport so what does an average week look like for you?
To do the job correctly, you need to be contactable around the clock, 365 days per year, almost without exception. So clearly you need to love what you do and believe in your work. My day starts at around 6:30am and finishes at around 11pm. I spend a lot of the week in Roc Nation’s London HQ. London has almost become the centre of the footballing universe in recent years.
I try to go to games every week and I also watch a lot of games every week on our scouting platform. As well as meeting with clubs and potential recruits, it’s important for me to spend time with existing clients. And because the job requires me to be away from my family a lot, I try to make sure that we spend quality time together when we are together.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
I speak a few languages and I started a company around 17 years ago that provided all sorts of services to football clubs – work permit exams for non-EU players, assisting players who were buying a house, getting divorced, or generally signing any document that was not in their mother tongue. That evolved over a number of years to the point that a lot of the work I was doing had veered into agency territory. I decided to do the FIFA exam, passed it, and became an independent agent.
I’ve been a huge football fan since I was four or five years old, although at that point I was thinking I’d score a diving header in the last minute to win the World Cup for Ireland. Unfortunately, my footballing talent didn’t take me any further than Rathcoole Boys FC, so I had to find another route.
What is your number one focus when it comes to your work?
The player and his family. I need each player to know that he has choices, and that each player feels in control of his own progress. Giving the player the comfort of knowing he has a subject matter expert available to him for every aspect of his career.
Can you tell us about a time you failed and what you learned from it?
When I started working as an agent, I was occasionally guilty of over-pitching a player. Perhaps pushing a player to clubs that were beyond his immediate abilities. I soon learned that it’s best to really take the time to understand a player before you sign him. You need to have a strong sense of the player’s attributes. You also need to work smart with clubs. Don’t waste a club’s time by being overly speculative. Over time, that’s why we’ve gained respect. We only present a player to a club if we’re sure that he is the correct level.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
An increasing number of clubs are realising that putting trust in young players pays off. There are so many young players making an impact in World Football. Whether it’s Real Madrid with Vinicius Jr, Valverde, Rodrygo and Camavinga, or Crystal Palace with Eze, Olise and Chris Richards, it’s great to see so many young guns playing top flight football.
If you could change one thing about your Industry, what would you change?
The FIFA Agents’ Exam needs to be reintroduced rapidly, and it will be in 2023 I believe. Any serious industry should have knowledge as a barrier to entry. The exam was quite tough and, although people will always complain about agents, at least agents who passed the exam under the old system are qualified to do the job.
Sport is a hectic industry, what do you do to switch off?
I find it really hard to switch off. I often need a complete change of scenery to distract me into switching off. I tried to play golf years ago but it bored me senseless. I love to run through the pine woods and sand dunes in Formby with my wife. The scenery looks like another planet and, although the phone stays with me, that’s a huge escape for me.
I love watching movies with my wife and kids, and it’s also a very musical household. Everyone plays at least two instruments, so it’s always noisy in the house, but good noise!
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
Understand who and what the hell you are. Your success is directly linked to your ability to sign talented athletes. Unless your identity and principles are clear, you can’t expect clients to buy into you.
Any social links you want to plug?
Thanks for reading our chat with Alan Redmond! If you want to read more from our Industry Insider series, you can do so by clicking here.