Breaking new ground for football recruitment

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The Football Transfer Forum (FTF) is fast becoming one of the most visited football insider events in the UK calendar.

Founded by Tony Sharkey, who has seen FTF through from the first concept to thriving webinars and live meetings, the event allows individuals in the football world to share their knowledge and expertise on a number of different topics within the game – namely transfers, scouting and recruitment.

This year’s event takes place at Leicester City’s King Power Stadium on Wednesday, November 24, and previous versions have taken place at Anfield, Elland Road, Etihad Stadium and at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium – which hosted the first incarnation as early as 2017.

Football Transfer Forum is a networking event every two years, for everyone involved in football transfers, scouting and recruitment.

The list of participants increases for each event and attracts a number of key figures in the football world – including sports managers, recruitment managers, chief scouts, European scouts, loan managers, agents and lawyers and others.

Sharkey, a long-time football agent himself, reveals in a speech to 90min how the concept came about and what he aims to achieve with FTF.

“I knew I could do something that I felt suited the needs of football better,” Sharkey said.

“I participated in some events, like Wyscout early on, and that was very much in the idea, but it was not really right for me.

“I would not say that I was inspired or even had that kind of ‘light bulb’ moment, I could only see what was needed and maybe how something could be tailored that was more suitable for me and therefore the wider football recruitment audience in England.

“It was back in 2015 and it was two years later when we launched the first event in Middlesbrough, and we have not looked back since.”

Sharkey has been developing the event since the early days of his hometown of Middlesbrough, and the Leicester event will welcome some big names in football as a guest speaker – which will surround a day of possible transfer planning ahead of the January window.

Each event has boasted some big names in football, but Sharkey is happy with the line-up he has put together in Leicester; one that includes Leeds United’s highly regarded sports director Victor Orta, as well as former Leicester City manager Steve Walsh.

There is also an international feeling with the sports lawyer Marcos Motta, who played a part in football’s biggest transfer of all time – Neymar’s transfer of 222 million euros from Barcelona to PSG.

“I’m happy with the trio that has managed to get hold of, Victor Orta, Steve Walsh and Marcos Motta are all wonderful in their own right so having all three in Leicester will really be very special,” admits Sharkey.

“And it’s just part of the day, which we have high hopes for – we already have over 30 clubs participating in the event, and they will all be active in our networking part of the day.”

On today’s hectic schedule, he continues: “It’s a really hectic day, introductions since the opening speaker who this time is Victor Orta before we go into networking. We call this speed network and let everyone interact.

“Then the second speaker, who this time will be Marcos Motta and then move to more networking around clubs, sporting directors and agents.” We then have the third lecture in Steve Walsh, and when we are in Leicester there will be few more popular people than him – so this is going to be hectic, and that’s what we’re looking forward to.

“And I just want to commend everyone who has helped put this together, this is not a one-man show at all, everyone has joined in and we have navigated this period of Covid just thanks to a huge team effort.”

Looking ahead Sharkey admits that the future is bright for FTF, with the opportunity to host events outside the UK – but after Covid, they are taking things slowly.

“We have idea plans, maybe an event in Europe soon – but next year we hope to go back to our pre-Covid plans with two events a year. One before each window, ie April and November, which we think works well.”

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