CAA Sports Deepens Soccer Ties By Acquiring Top U.K. Agency
CAA Sports has made a significant move into the business of international football, acquiring Base Soccer Agency, which represents more than 300 players, coaches and managers on and off the pitch, including many EPL stars. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Base represents Manchester City D Kyle Walker, Manchester United MF Fred and D Ashley Young, Tottenham D Danny Rose and Leicester City MF James Maddison, among others. Base also represents international soccer teams in trades, and the firm negotiated more than $650M in transfer deals and contracts in the last two years. Headquartered in London, Base is one of the largest international football player representation firms in the world and was ranked No. 21 on the Forbes list of all sports agencies. "An acquisition like this helps us further solidify our leadership globally in the athlete representation business," said CAA Sports co-Head Howard Nuchow. Base, which employs 60 people in 12 offices around the globe, will continue to operate under that name for now.
SALE WASN'T PLANNED: The agency was founded in '97 by Leon Angel, longtime adviser and rep to former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. Angel and Frank Trimboli, an agent known for orchestrating many high-profile soccer trades, are majority owners of Base. Angel is Chair and Trimboli, who joined Base in '02, is Managing Dir. "The original intention was not to be acquired; it was to grow it," Angel said. "We liked what we were doing very much. We have been approached quite regularly -- just in the last six months we had three different approaches which we just turned down." However, Angel said he and Trimboli became convinced that combining with CAA Sports would be additive to the company they built. "We like to say one and one has to equal two and this equals four or five," Angel said. Angel and Trimboli met CAA Sports execs at a party CAA hosted to coincide with the Leaders London Summit in '17 and began talking about how they might be able to work together since then. "We just really like the ethos of CAA," Angel said.
INCREASING SOCCER PRESENCE: CAA is already in the business of soccer player representation through its 10-year partnership with Polaris Sports, Gestifute’s commercial arm, under which it jointly represents the marketing rights for high-profile soccer players and coaches, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Jose Mourinho and James Rodriguez. Additionally, since '13, CAA has represented the broadcasting, sponsorship and licensing rights to all UEFA national team competitions and the Nations League through its subsidiary, CAA Eleven. However, the acquisition of Base moves CAA Sports into the business of repping soccer players on the field, as well as into the player transfer business. "Right away we loved the fact that Leon and Frank and their team of over 60 people are among the most experienced agents in international soccer," Nuchow said. "As we got to know them, we started to look at a collaborative approach, their commitment to client service, and we realized it would be a great complement to our team as we extend our relationships and expertise for clients internationally."
SOME TIES TO MLS: The majority of Base's soccer clients are in the U.K., but the agency represents men and women soccer players on national teams and leagues all over the world, including MLS. Base helped bring F Diego Rossi to LAFC, and the agency represents Whitecaps D Ali Adnan. CAA is a powerful entertainment agency, and many Base clients are interested in entertainment. That was a factor in deciding to sell to CAA Sports, but was not the only reason, Angel said. He did say, however, that CAA's reputation and resources would help the agency grow in the future. "We feel with the support of CAA, with the different services and skill sets they have, with us, we are very confident we will be signing some of the biggest names in soccer," Angel said.