Reece Land: crazy tales of a women’s football agent
There are so many interesting stories I could tell about my career as an agent if it weren’t for nondisclosure agreements and client confidentiality! Here are three of my most memorable experiences I can actually share.
Worrying I would lose my life on a trip abroad
Enjoying a drink in the airport with no idea what was to come
During the January transfer window this year I flew over to a country in Europe to negotiate a deal for a player, and let the club know another player was leaving. First of all, I absolutely hate flying. I flew out alone this time, which I rarely do, and had a couple of drinks at the airport before leaving and on the plane to calm my nerves. When I got there I went through customs as usual, and got to passport control where I was asked a couple of questions about how long I was in the country for and what I was there for. I said I was there for three days and I was a football agent negotiating a deal.
What happened next is a bit of a blur. I remember answering those questions, then my next memory is being questioned in a room. I was being spoken to in a foreign language and I had two security guards standing behind me with sawn off shotguns around their shoulders.
When asked who I represent, I said the player’s name, but the man interrogating me had no clue who she was. I explained the club I was there to meet and told them the name of the club’s President, but I’m not sure they understood me, especially with my Yorkshire accent.
I was being spoken to in a foreign language and I had two security guards standing behind me with sawn off shotguns around their shoulders.
This went on for about half an hour before I got my phone out to show the name and contact number of the President. I’m not sure what exactly happened in the next 60 seconds but the interrogator must have recognised the President’s name and I ended up phoning him. A few minutes later the President came into the room, made eye contact with the man interrogating me, and I was told I was free to go.
I got in the car with the President and asked him what it was all about. It turns out that a month or so before an agent had been questioned by one of the governing bodies about a club’s conduct. He’d dobbed someone in at the club and the club responded by giving the agent a car to use with explosives in it.
It’s normal practice for agents to be given cars to use, but you can imagine my reaction when on this trip the President said, ‘Reece, there’s a car outside the hotel and the keys are at the reception. Use that while you’re here’
I didn’t drive the car because I had visions of me starting the engine and it blowing up – I was gutted though because it was a brand new Porsche Convertible. I also didn’t tell the club my player was leaving at the end of the season, I just didn’t have the balls! I ended up emailing them with the news when I got back home. In all honesty, it was the scariest experience of my life.
Breaking the internet with the Fran Alonso deal
My business partner Jordan Guard, Fran and me the night before Fran got the Celtic job
Fran Alonso going to Celtic was undoubtedly the biggest deal I’ve been a part of in terms of global interest. The 48 hours surrounding the deal was absolute madness.
The deal in itself and the negotiations were fairly straight forward, though there were quite a lot of moving parts to it.
It was the global scale and the media attention that made the deal massive. Somehow it had already broken to the public before the deal was anywhere close to being finalised. I think this proved the magnitude of Celtic, the media and public attention that came afterwards was surreal. You can tell they’re one of the world’s biggest clubs.
The move was officially announced at 8pm, and within an hour the Next Gen Sport Solutions website servers went down due to the volume of traffic. We usually get around 75 hits a day – between 8pm and midnight on that day we had over 300,000 hits and 24 hours after that we were close to 850,000 hits.
We usually get around 75 hits a day – between 8pm and midnight on that day we had over 300,000 hits and 24 hours after that we were close to 850,000 hits.
Off the back of that, we had over 100 players contact us asking us to represent them, and media requests from territories we didn’t even know existed. It just shows the power of women’s football on a global scale if it’s done right.
The volume of social media activity was insane: the notifications were coming through non-stop on Twitter and Instagram and we got the usual messages of abuse about women's football. The difference was, we were used to getting one of those messages about a deal, this time we were getting hundreds.
Fran conducting media work after being announced as Celtic manager
Learning the wrong language to complete a deal
A couple of weeks ago, on the Friday May bank holiday, I had a Zoom call to discuss a deal with a Spanish team. The deal was 80 per cent done at the time and we were ironing out some of the specifics. I knew with it being a bank holiday that I’d really struggle to get a translator so I learned as much of the language as I could in the two weeks leading up to the meeting. Rather than relying on the club to speak to me in English I wanted to show some respect and really buy into their language and culture. I did email them a few days before the meeting, though, to let them know the situation and that I felt I could at least hold a decent conversation in the language.
Rather than relying on the club to speak to me in English I wanted to show some respect and really buy into their language and culture.
The day before the meeting I called Fran Alonso to test out what I’d learned. He told me that I’d actually learned Catalan, not Spanish. For two weeks I’d learned a language that was completely useless for the meeting, and that I’ll probably never use unless I go to Barcelona. There were a lot of expletives during that call with Fran.
In the end though, the club were thankfully very understanding and saw the funny side to my translation hiccup and we got the deal done in the end.