Imagine running a sports agency and not recruiting a single client? Jo Tongue’s controversial strategy isn’t quite what you expect from the CEO of one of the nation’s leading agencies, Tongue Tied Management.

In an exclusive interview with UCFB, Tongue said: “I’ve never approached a client, so all my clients have come to me. You could say that’s crazy business-wise, because what’s your business strategy? But there is one because every week more and more people come to us saying can we join.”

Tongue Tied, who manage the likes of Manchester United coach Michael Carrick and Chelsea manager Emma Hayes, represent broadcasters as well as sports stars. Despite refusing to connect with potential clients themselves, the agency learns every minute detail – from their history with other players to their specialisms on the pitch or in the newsroom – before considering signing them. To say their approach is thorough is something of an understatement.

Tongue said: “Always meet the families, then always do your research. I’m not coaching them every day, I’m not training them every day, so that’s where you’ve got to be able to have your network to speak to. I often ask the managers; I have good relationships with the managers.”

So how does she know when to sign them? Instinct. For all the statistics, the performances, the potential, the Women in Football director refuses to sign anybody she doesn’t sincerely and wholeheartedly like.

She said: “I couldn’t do it, because we speak to our clients so much that they are your family. I care for them, I care for their careers, and how can I care for someone I don’t like? So it’s really important to me, and it’s just morals and values.”

And just like family, Jo doesn’t always give her clients exactly what they want. She said: “I’m not ‘get rich quick’, I’m not going to get you rich tomorrow; that’s not what I’m here for. I’m here to look after you, make sure you’re fairly represented and give you longevity of a career.”

Having previously worked as a BBC sports reporter, online, on radio and TV, Jo is a mouthpiece for the versatility of the industry, and admits that moving between sectors can reap its own benefits.

Tongue said: “It was a big jump to go from writing football reports and producing programmes to this, but I honestly don’t understand why more people don’t do it. Because I’ve been the producer and I’ve run budgets, when a TV company or a football club come to me and say ‘this is our budget’, I can say ‘look, I know how budgets work, talk to me honestly’.”

She adds: “I’ll start suggesting things; I think sometimes that helps me because they understand I’m not just being the agent going ‘let me get all the money I can’. I’m saying if there’s money there, let’s make the budget work for my client.”