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Special agent Carlile

By Stuart McKinley

A man who once shocked the Irish Football Association has set himself the goal of helping to improve the Northern Ireland international team.

It isn't every day that local football's governing body gets a call from someone enquiring about how to become an agent, so the Windsor Avenue hierarchy were a little taken aback when Belfast-man Gerry Carlile got in touch with them.

Now, after finally navigating his way through the tricky procedure to become a player's representative, the University of Ulster graduate wants more than just himself and local footballers to benefit from his work.

"I was the first person ever to do the agent's exam in Northern Ireland.

"Initially I was directed to the England FA who then passed me onto the Scottish FA and they told me that I had to do it through the Irish FA, my own home association.

" I contacted the IFA and initially there were almost oblivious to it, because nobody had ever asked about qualifying as an agent before.

" They were very professional and helpful to me from coming from that position where they knew very little about it.

"A lot of it was very tricky stuff. It's not just a straightforward exam, you have to speak to a lot of people and cut through a lot of red tape with FIFA.

"It was like being back at school, I had to sit on my own in a room with an invigilator and everything.

"There were questions on the FIFA statutes, FIFA regulations and contract law and then the local rules and regulations.

"I am now registered as agent number one in Northern Ireland."

Internationally at least, football in Northern Ireland has reached a high not experienced for many, many years.

Domestically there is still a lot of work to be done, but with a new Premier League kicking off in 12-months time that might at least be the start of a new dawn for the local game.

And Carlile claims that he can help out both.

"I would like to think that there is talent here and some lads have slipped through the net, some have been late developers and that there would be an opportunity for them to get across the water," he said.

"If I can be of any assistance there then great. Naturally it will only help the standard of the Northern Ireland international team.

"It stands to reason that the more players you have to chose from then the greater chance you have of success.

"The feedback that I have received from contacts in England and Scotland is that they know there are a few rough diamonds to be found over here.

"The Irish League is viewed as somewhere where a lot of seriously good professional players have emerged from, guys have come from the Irish League and went across to play at top clubs.

"A lot of managers over there don't have a great deal of time to come and watch the games.

"They know who the players are and obviously some clubs have better scouting systems than others.

"In terms of myself here, I am not here to try to extract money from Irish League clubs, quite to the contrary. I see myself as a facilitator with people using me as a stepping stone to go to clubs in England or Scotland because of the contacts I have over there and the fact that I represent a company that has in excess of 40 players on the books.

"The contacts we have with clubs and managers would obviously benefit any lads who think they have the potential to make a big move and to do well across there.

"I understand that clubs want to keep hold of their best players, but they also need to recognise that much need finance can be raised from selling players who are good enough to make the move."

The life of a football agent isn't always a happy one, particularly when television documentaries like the BBC Panorama programme almost a year ago are broadcast claiming a number of managers and agents had taken 'bungs' to secure moves for players to certain clubs.

Harry Redknapp and Sam Allardyce haven't conducted post-match interviews with Match of the Day since as they fight legal cases with the BBC.

Carlile insists that until hard evidence is provided to prove that there is corruption involving certain agents, then they should be allowed to do their jobs in peace.

"The process that is in place makes it difficult to become an agent. It's not a case of just grabbing the phone and calling up some footballers. There is so much more to it than that and it is a lot tougher," he said.

" You can't legally practice as an agent until you have passed the exam and have your professional indemnity insurance.

"Agents have to go through a lot of scrutiny, if you have a criminal record you can't do the exam and the licence can be taken away at any time. Your record has to be impeccable.

"Provide the evidence, it is very easy to go around throwing mud, but it won't stick if it is unsubstantiated claims.

"There is no substance to a lot of what has been said. Come up with the evidence; it is either put up or shut up."

Belfast Telegraph


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