Difference between football and cycling manager? “They are completely different worlds” | Cycling


Football managers are known, often in a negative sense in recent years. Just think of Operation Zero and allegations of financial and sporting malpractice.

Apparently that is different in cycling. A calmer climate, without much swell. With managers who stand out much less to represent the interests of their customers / riders. Who is Dries Smets, for example? Many cycling enthusiasts, even who do not have the answer.

Nevertheless, Smets is an important link in cycling. After all, the Belgian manager has many top players in his portfolio, genre Julian Alaphilippe, Greg Van Avermaet, Philippe Gilbert, Tiesj Benoot, Zdenek Stybar, Tim Wellens, Jasper Stuyven, Thomas De Gendt, Yves Lampaert and Laurens De Plus.

“Football and cycling are completely different worlds. The business model of the two sports cannot be compared”, says Smets.

“Cycling is a much smaller world than football, with only 25 teams. If you do not work correctly, it is done quickly. Plus: there is a lot less money in cycling. And also: I am looking for the attention, that depends on my personality. “

“What is comparable is that football and cycling managers negotiate contracts for their riders / players. We assist them as best we can, which is of course inherent to the function of broker.”

“But football is structured as a system with heavy transfer fees and a model in which the club pays the broker and not the player pays the broker. That opens the door to abuse. Although you should of course not shame all football brokers, because of course. I also know of some that work very correctly. ”

“In cycling, the relationship is very simple: I work for the rider and the rider pays me, with a percentage on the contract that I negotiate for him. I think that is a very healthy working relationship: the more I am there for the rider. the better for him and for me too. “

“In football you sit with a player, a player manager and a club manager. Negotiations are taking place about a transfer fee, part of which has to go to the player manager.

Strikingly with cyclists: there is a large discrepancy in salaries. Young riders, neo-pros for example, often earn next to nothing. A comparison with the top wage for a Peter Sagan is skewed.

Dries Smets: “There is indeed a big difference, because the importance of leaders in cycling continues to increase. Sponsors prefer to associate with leaders and so a team builds up around that leader. The hardest fights are therefore for those leaders and that results. in high salaries. “

“This system does offer the advantage that a starting rider really has a perspective: if he is good, he can earn more seriously in a short time.”

Unlike football, cycling does not have accommodation that a team can exploit to generate income.

“The weakness of the economic model in cycling is that everything depends on sponsors”, says Dries Smets. “And often that is only 1 sponsor or 1 patron. That stands or falls a team.”

“Every year some teams are threatened in this way in their existence. A model is being sought where the income goes beyond sponsorship, but that is not easy. They have been working on that for decades now …”

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