Back in Business

Terry Byrne, David Beckham’s former personal manager and founder of UK-based sports agency 1966, is making a move back into talent management with new venture 10Ten. He spoke to Matt Cutler about working alongside some of world football’s biggest stars.

I’ve always been in the right place at the right time. I’ve been very lucky and I’ve had a long career. But I think to succeed in business you also need the right mentality and right personality.

I didn’t really want to manage talent again. I’ve been in football for 25 years, and have done everything from massaging legs to managing David Beckham and building up [soccer team] the New York Cosmos. But that leads you to ask yourself, ‘what do you do best?’.

We won’t only manage sports talent with 10Ten. It will predominantly work in sport, but we’re also looking at musicians and supermodels. We’ll look to build a football stable first, but then there are other sportspeople and musicians who are best in class that we are talking to. Over the next couple of months we will decide whether to diversify into those areas.

Pele will be involved in 10Ten. The agency name came about after a conversation with him [Pele wore the number 10 shirt] and his desire to help young Brazilian players that want to come across to Europe.

The new venture will not cause a conflict of interest. I manage the England football team [1966 holds its players’ collective commercial rights and manages their relationship with the FA (English Football Association) and its partners], but I’ve grown up with those agents for the last 20 years. I’m never going to jeopardise those relationships. And I’m not going after any of the England players that are already under management.

The agency name came about after a conversation with Pele

In Jack Wilshere, I see a lot of the strengths I saw in Beckham. [Arsenal player] Jack is the first talent we’ve signed at 10Ten. I want to help him and nurture his career…I’ve been there with David and I can see what’s ahead for him.

I was useless academically. At school I was told that unless I found a career in sport, I’d struggle in life. So I studied a CSE [now GCSE] in a course known as Sport and Society and that dictated a path for me. I had to listen to someone say, ‘if you want to get on in life, this is your only chance’. I did listen.

This last year has been the busiest of Pele’s life. I originally met him when I was headhunted to help rebuild the Cosmos, and we were made aware of the opportunity to buy his worldwide rights. He is one of those special people that can captivate a room. When you look at sporting icons today you’d probably say Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan and I’d argue Pele.

Soccer in the United States is booming. David did a great job in increasing the profile of the sport there, and also in the technical playing standard. In that respect David’s contribution is bigger than people realise. I think going forward, he will be able to apply himself to being a team owner with ease.

David and I still speak as friends. I have the pleasure of being the godfather to two of his children and he’s godfather to my son.

Like in sport, you win or lose in business. I approach my different businesses the same, but sport has taught me a hell of a lot. You can have a fantastic result in a business you are running and it can have a tremendous upside for all the shareholders and partners – that can give you the same kind of buzz as sport.

I’ve learnt not to make investments for the sake of family and friends. I’ve invested in businesses in the past because of those relationships and it never works.

I’ll forever be grateful to Glenn Hoddle. He gave me that first opportunity to represent my country [on the England football team medical staff]. Now at 10Ten, bizarrely, I’m managing the man who gave me my first break. It’s a funny world.

I’ve worked with some people here for 16 years. I’ve always said at my 50th birthday I’m going to throw one hell of a party and then talk to various people about them taking over various parts of the business. They deserve the opportunity to grow as individuals and one day captain the ship.

I hope 1966 continues to represent the England team. That’s what the company was borne out of and we do a very good job with a complex set of rights. Managing all those rights-holders – the player, the agent, the club, the sponsor and the FA – isn’t easy, but we’ve done it well for a long time.

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