Power’s move to Norwich City illustrates the other side of the agents’ story
PUBLISHED: 06:00 18 May 2020 | UPDATED: 08:30 18 May 2020
Ian Burt Photography
Dan Chapman is a Norwich-based football agent - but not your typical player representative, as he explained to King’s Lynn Town owner Stephen Cleeve.
You can be forgiven for thinking football agents are a scourge on the game of football – it’s a generally held view of a profession that takes millions of pounds out of the sport.
Dan Chapman pretty much shares those feelings – even though part of his working life is representing footballers.
While some super agents chase the megabucks, Chapman is quite happy to find a nugget and polish it into a diamond, rather than covet the already polished gem.
Simon Power’s story is a good illustration. The 22-year-old is with Norwich City, spent part of the season on loan at Ross County and ended the campaign, as we know it, with King’s Lynn Town – all part of that ‘polishing’ effect.
Power’s story is unusual, but it does neatly explain the Chapman method. It begins in Dublin, where Chapman’s Full Contact agency has an office.
“Simon was playing his football at UCD, a (Dublin) university in Ireland – he is a clever lad,” explains Chapman. “He came late to football and you won’t be surprised looking at his frame to know that he was an outstanding rugby player, and he was destined for a good career in rugby. While he was a student he played a lot more football.
“With these things there is often a combination of things that come about and we were shown a video and we ended up having a meeting with Simon and his father in our Dublin offices.
“It was blindingly obvious that there was a footballer who had an extreme amount of raw talent and pace and we just thought this was an interesting project. He was coming towards the end of his studies, had a great attitude and was willing to go on some trials so we then looked to where we could take him, and we aimed high.”
The project wasn’t a normal one given Power was a late starter, but Chapman spoke to Norwich City, they liked what they saw on trial and signed him. Power had a loan at Dordrecht in the Dutch second tier then a short spell at Ross County, where it didn’t quite work out, the Scottish side preferring to use him as an impact sub and their tactics not quite what all parties south of the border expected.
“It wasn’t really what Norwich or Simon wanted,” adds Chapman. “He needed to get game time and experience so he was recalled and so it was really a conversation that (Norwich City loans manager) Neil Adams and I had - how about King’s Lynn?
“Unfortunately, the cessation of the season meant he didn’t get the games we all hoped, but that wasn’t foreseeable and actually we all wanted to see if we could help each other really and see if we could tick some boxes.”
Power was an instant hit at The Walks – but while the story is cut short by the coronavirus pandemic, it illustrates the Chapman way of doing things.
Chapman negotiated Freddie Ladapo’s move to Crystal Palace, but Southampton’s Che Adams is perhaps the most high-profile example of his style: the striker was playing with Ilkeston when Chapman helped him get a move into the pro game.
“When we first approached Che he was a non-contract player which meant we could have pulled him out of there and they wouldn’t have got anything,” says Chapman. “We reassured them we would all work together, he signed a contract at Ilkeston, we waited until it was the right opportunity, he signed for Sheffield United and Ilkeston got a lot of money out of it. Our business model has been about nurturing up-and-coming talent, maybe academy players.
“There are other agencies which tend to be a lot bigger than us, they focus really on essentially stealing other people’s clients at the top end of the game, they don’t really want to get involved at the lower levels and play the long game, and they are more about approaching top stars and trying to persuade them.”
Chapman doesn’t hold back when he considers the sharks that swim in the sea of football agents.
He says: “My motivation for becoming a football agent, and people might laugh when they hear this, wasn’t a financial one. I can earn a lot more money being a lawyer than being a football agent.
“We got into it for different reasons, but I am quite open about the fact that like in most businesses, there are really good football agents and it pains me when I see that everybody is tarred with the same brush.
“But there are some terrible football agents and I will pull no punches about this – there are football agents that shouldn’t be outside of a prison let alone representing young footballers. And then there are agents that are in between, they are kind of okay, but there are some real wrong ‘uns that are in this industry and I feel quite strongly about that and the lack of regulation has allowed for some unsavoury characters to come in.
“But it is so important to acknowledge that there are some brilliant agents out there who have a really important role to play and they don’t all make millions of pounds like the press will have you believe.”
Chapman was talking to Cleeve’s podcast ‘I Bought A Football Club’