LEGENDS WILL WEED OUT ROGUE PLAYER AGENTS
By Phil Gould | Sydney Morning Herald | April 17, 2011
The newly formed NSW Origin Legends organisation is about to enter the field of player management. The NSWOL rugby league-accredited player agent scheme could well be the first of its kind anywhere in the world of sport.
NSWOL president Chris Anderson and chief executive Max Krilich sat me down on Thursday and they could not hide their passion as they proudly explained this new concept. In presenting their business plan titled, "Kicking goals for rugby league", these two men spoke of the NSWOL organisation providing a not-for-profit, all-inclusive, lifelong management and support service for rugby league players and their families. All profits from this scheme would be channelled back into other support programs offered by the NSWOL, including the development of country rugby league and junior league programs.
It is my understanding that Anderson, Krilich and their business associates have presented the scheme to NRL management and it was met with enthusiastic support. I also understand Anderson attended the NRL's player agent accreditation lectures during the week to have himself and the NSWOL accredited as official player agents.
Anderson claims that of the $80 million (a minimum figure) clubs pay out in player salaries each season, more than $10m (at least) is in turn paid by players to managers, accountants, solicitors and lawyers in the form of commissions and fees. Anderson believes if the NSWOL can secure a healthy percentage of the player manager market, much of this money can find its way back into the game to help future development.
Let me quote from the executive summary in the new body's official presentation booklet:
"The committee and board of the NSWOL, on behalf of its over 230 former NSW Origin player members, believes that the management and nurturing of elite rugby league players requires a new approach. We recognise the enormous responsibility that player managers have in providing a professional holistic service offering that delivers best-practice advice and establishes the foundations not only for a successful rugby league career, but a successful life after rugby league.''
The committee therefore decided that the NSWOL had an ''obligation and commitment to harness the considerable rugby league knowledge of its members to mentor, manage and support both established and developing rugby league players. It was also noted with some consternation that some existing player managers have not delivered the outcomes that would reasonably be expected of a player manager adopting best-practice procedures."
The NSWOL stressed that it would be a not-for-profit company but this status would ''not detract from the intent to secure the most competitive commercial outcomes for our clients. However, profits from service fees generated will flow back to NSWOL for the operation of its charitable and mentoring activities.'' These activities are:
❏ Contributing to the growth and development of league through the efforts of Origin Legend members and NSWOL sponsors, and
❏ Providing support and donations to NSWOL charities, including indigenous charities promoting education and career pathways.
To ensure their services are of the highest standard, the NSWOL has secured the following professional firms as alliance partners:
❏ BDO Chartered Accountants, the fifth largest accounting firm in the global market;
❏ HWL Ebsworth Lawyers, a leading second-tier, full-service law company;
❏ RISE, one of Australia's leading entertainment management groups specialising in media and product endorsement;
❏ ANZ Stadium (I believe managing director Daryl Kerry, who attends NSWOL Board meetings - great bloke - has guaranteed premises for NSWOL's management offices); and
❏ Westpac Banking Corporation.
The NSWOL and these partners will offer the most comprehensive player manager service available, providing:
❏ Contract negotiations,
❏ Tax planning,
❏ Financial planning,
❏ Investment counselling,
❏ Professional development and education for players,
❏ Career planning,
❏ Wealth management, and
❏ Appearances/endorsements and media coaching.
The involvement of Westpac Bank is interesting. Westpac's unique Alpha program for sports and entertainment stars is headed by Grant Hackett and provides lifelong financial management support.
The new board of the NSWOL - comprising Anderson, Krilich, Steve Mortimer, Steve Roach, Brad Fittler, Don McKinnon, Mario Fenech and Andrew Johns - has set its sights on making the NSWOL organisation one of the most successful and influential in Australian sport.
Their vision is to "spread the rugby league message across NSW to create a solid platform of respect and credibility through visits to our communities where former players can touch the hearts of kids, particularly those less fortunate, and encourage them to aspire to be the best they can be".
The NSWOL player management scheme is indeed a major initiative.
Many times each year I am contacted by parents of young rugby league hopefuls who have just been selected in elite junior representative teams or who have been contacted by talent scouts from the NRL clubs. It's the same question every time: "Should my son have a manager?
The simple answer is yes. I believe all players, regardless of age, should have a manager. However, getting the right manager, with the right motivation and the right system of professional support is the key. Many of these parents, especially in country areas, will be putting the care and future of their sons in the hands of these people as the kids leave home for the first time. It's a very important decision.
There are some great managers around. I always recommend my friend Wayne Beavis because I know and trust his professionalism, ability and motivations. There are others who provide a great and personalised service. However, as recent bad publicity no doubt shows, there are those managers who think they are the rock stars; and it is these people who give player management a black eye and have parents concerned about entrusting the future of their kids to reckless agents.
From all my experience, and knowing the character and credentials of the people behind this NSWOL player management scheme and its alliance partners, I would have no hesitation in recommending this opportunity to parents as a professional, safe and secure option for the management of their sons' careers in rugby league and beyond. And you also know that fees paid will help the future development of the game.