The coronavirus pandemic that has shook the world in recent weeks has had a huge impact on the sports industry. Competitions across different countries and different sports have come to a standstill; we’ve even seen the cancellation of the likes of this summer’s Olympic Games in Japan, and Euro 2020.

To find out more about how the sports industry is being affected, we spoke to a number of our graduates working around the world to see how much more difficult the crisis is making their work on a day-to-day basis. Here, we speak to Thomas Freismuth, a BA (Hons) International Football Business graduate, who now works as a Football Intermediary at the Family & Football agency in London…

In the current climate sport has almost come to a standstill for the first time since WW2. What has been the direct effect on your job and what you do?

The most obvious one is that I have to stay home as no games are being played. As a result, I am unable to meet up with players, scouts, sporting directors, sponsors, etc., or attend any games. Instead, I have many calls every day in order to stay in touch with everyone. There have been frequent legal questions that have arose, especially when it comes to the employment contracts of players. The scouting aspect of my job has also changed as I can only use video platforms to analyse games and players.

Please explain to us your process for scouting players in the current climate, with no games and no training taking place?

Our agency works with two video platforms: Instat and Wyscout. These are online video analysis tools in which you can watch almost every professional game around the world. We use these platforms, not only to identify talents, but to analyse the playing style of clubs. This will then help us identify the right club for the right player.

Thomas now works as a Football Intermediary at the Family & Football agency in London.

In what ways have you had to deal with players you represent in recent weeks over things like contracts, payment etc.? Are players nervous at the moment over the uncertainty?

This is a new situation for everyone, therefore numerous legal questions regarding employment contracts had to be checked. There are two different ‘payment models’ that we had to discuss with the players: a wage deferral and a wage cut. We looked into National Law and also spoke to regional lawyers. The majority of our players are not too nervous regarding the situation, as most of their clubs have informed them quite well. We have, however, had to discuss every contract on an individual basis with the players and the clubs. One of the key things I work on with my players is mental strength. For example, I have had individual FaceTime calls with each one of them on how they can best deal with the current situation.

Do you think football and sport has an important role to play in the current climate to emphasise the message to the public about safety?

I do and that is why I, together with three friends, started the #StayHomeStayFit Challenge ( Already, over 100 athletes across Europe have posted their home workouts on their social media channels, motivating people to stay at home and exercise – two very important messages for the public concerning their safety, and health and wellbeing. I do, however, believe there are currently far more important issues than football!

What was the immediate reaction of yourself, colleagues and the organisation when the news broke that firstly, sport was effectively coming to a stop, and secondly, that working from home was essential for the health and wellbeing of individuals?

We were slightly prepared due to the fact that we spoke with colleagues in northern Italy where they told us to prepare for a lockdown. At that time, however, we did not know the lockdown would go on for weeks. I called my players and discussed with them what was about to happen. At first, they did not really believe me, but we then organised how best to deal with the situation such as training programmes and schooling for younger players.

If you are working from home, how are you organising your day and what would you recommend to others in a similar situation who are maybe struggling not being in their usual work environment?

As I am not at home for over 200 days in the year, I guess I should be the one asking for advice rather than giving it! For me, it is important to have a daily routine of getting up in the morning, doing some sports exercise and having breakfast. I try to schedule many calls and video conferences each day, in order to provide structure to my day. Internally, we have a call every day between 11am-1pm.

What impact do you think football and sport will have on people when things hopefully return to normal in the coming months, and do you think it can be a positive one?

Football is part of our lives and our culture, so I think it will have a positive impact on many people’s lives. It will also be a sign of getting back to normality when we have regular fixtures taking place again.