Jen Mendelewitsch discusses the impact of a pandemic on football and what happens next

By Tom Dean

French football agent Jen Medelewitsch was a trailblazer in her industry when she started out and has gone on to carve out a niche for herself managing talented young players around Europe. 

The Parisian was introduced to the beautiful game at a young age by her father making it a passion long before it became her profession. 

But with the COVID-19 virus taking a firm grip of football across the continent, and indeed the rest of the world, the sport that she loves so much and provides her income now looks vulnerable. 

Jen Mendelewitsch with client and Southampton academy player Allan Tchaptchet

The message on these shores has been made clear; ‘Football is now secondary’ yet the debate rages on about what should be done with the remainder of the season and what the implications will be. 

Here Mendelewitsch, who has previously represented Fulham’s Neeskens Kebano, gives us an insight into how the developing situation could impact her future and the course of action she recommends.

“In France the official message is that we’re all sticking together until the end and supporting each other but when you talk to clubs directly, they are all very scared about what is going to happen,” she said. 

“Agents were just starting to think about the summer transfer window but now clubs have two options; put everything on hold or try and go after the same players but get them for a lower price which mainly only applies to the big clubs. 

“The issue is that most clubs will be very careful and they might be more reserved about giving players their first contracts if there are details they’re unsure about. 

“I hope that in the long run clubs will have to think more about being independent from the money that comes from TV rights and become more self-sufficient.”

The 36-year-old has been in and out of stadiums for as long as she can remember and grew up a proud Manchester United fan having visited Old Trafford on business with her father when she was 13. 

Back then he was trying to engineer a move for future PSG man and France international Jeremy Menez but when it came to Mendelewitsch carving out her own career, her father told her she had to go it alone. 

Mendelewitsch passed her football agent exams when she was 20 before carving out a career for herself representing young players

Armed with a law degree and a knowledge of the sport gathered from vigorous studying and childhood osmosis, she now has a roster of 20 young male and six female players. 

Working in a male-dominated environment for the last 15 years has never bothered or hindered Mendelewitsch either, in fact she prefers not to acknowledge it at all. 

“I decided long ago not take my gender into consideration and if anyone has a problem that is on them and not me, she said. 

“If you do choose to approach things differently as a woman all you end up doing is putting yourself in a box that you don’t want to be in. 

“If anyone has had a problem with it, they’ve never behaved as if they do and I’ve honestly never felt that it’s been an issue.” 

It’s looking increasingly unlikely that any of the original timeframes will be met with the Belgian Pro League the first in Europe to announce definitive action by requesting to cancel the rest of their season. 

If seasons in this country are going to be completed one bridge that will have to be crossed is what players with contracts expiring on June 30 will do – and Mendelewitsch thinks she has a solution to suit all parties. 

“I think what would be wise is for clubs to hold on to players until the ‘end of the season’ rather than the date at which the season was originally expected to finish – that’s the intelligent thing to do. 

“This way the players are protected because they’re still paid and the clubs are covered because they have the same players they started the season with.”

There’s always been a degree of scrutiny levelled at agents because of the large fees involved in transfers but as the money goes up, so does the castigation. 

Mendelewitsch herself admits that she has been the target of abuse on social media but insists fans should look a lot closer to home if they disagree with what is going on inside their club. 

Despite the growing uncertainty transfer rumours are still likely to swirl but as for any concrete business, perhaps we’ll all have to wait and see. 

“It’s always so much easier for people to blame an agent than their own club director or CEO,” she added. 

“Of course as agents we ask for things but these are always agreed on by all parties but when a player is leaving the agent is blamed, or when they perform badly they will say they are overpaid etc. 

“Then they will say that the agent fees are overpaid too but come on! Your own club has agreed to pay that money and all parties signed a contract to agree it – nobody stole anything. 

“We are easy targets and we accept that but it’s not a problem for me and fans should be looking at their own club instead of the agents because this is not a one-way system.”

Follow Tom Dean on Twitter.

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