What does an athlete agent do in the Indian sports industry?

The term Athlete Agent is often confusing as it is interpreted differently by different people.

However, there are two critical, but often distinct roles in managing an athlete.

Those two roles are:

  • Athlete Manager
  • Athlete Agent

An Athlete Agent is defined as someone who looks after the negotiations and closure of an athlete’s professional commitment and contract to a club.

An Athlete Agent performs seven critical day-to-day tasks:

Negotiation of contracts. This includes representing the team in the negotiation of the athlete’s contract with a particular club. Athlete agents are often qualified lawyers or have a deep knowledge of the law as it relates to sports contracts. This is a critical duty since the agent has to both keep his/her athlete’s best interests at heart and get the best deal; while also making sure that he or she does not make demands that could alienate the club and jeopardize the contract negotiations.

Managing Federations and other sports officials. This applies to all athletes as the sport is governed by the federations and on certain issues, the sports ministry. This is mainly applicable in the case of athletes who seek to, or already, represent the country on the international stage. Depending on the sport this could involve getting the assured stipend or salary from the federations, ensuring that the athlete meets all necessary certification requirements, and ensuring the athlete adheres to all the rules and regulations set by the federation so as to not attract any disciplinary action.

Managing the athlete’s professional entourage. Most athletes surround themselves with trusted people they have worked with for a long time such as a long-time coach or trainer. It is important for the Athlete Agent to manage their expectations as well since these people would have been with the athlete since he or she was young and also have the athlete’s trust.

Keeping track of the athlete’s performance and health. This includes diligently tracking the athlete’s performance on the field/court which can be used in future contract negotiations. Good performance can also be linked to an athlete’s commercial success for which the agent can coordinate with the athletes’ manager. An agent would also keep a track of the athlete’s overall physical and mental health which can be critical factors that determine future contracts.

Dates & Schedule Coordination. This includes keeping track of all of the athlete’s professional dates, competition schedules and team training schedules. The agent will also work with the athlete’s manager to ensure that no professional and commercial engagements are found to be overlapping.

Professional Requirements & Arrangements. This includes making sure that all professional arrangements for the athlete are met. Right from in-season ground transportation, air travel, accommodation and dietary requirements, to adhering to the athlete’s role and playing time as mutually agreed in the contract.

Payment and Financials. This includes ensuring payments are received on time from the club that the athlete has a contract with. It also includes following up on, and making sure all necessary taxes are paid on those payments, and that TDS certificates are duly filed by the respective clubs’ accounting department.


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