Former Arsenal player, Lianne Sanderson, has been appointed to head up the women’s division of the huge player agency, ICM Stellar Sports.
Sanderson, 33, started her football life with Arsenal at the age of nine in 1997, staying with the club until 2008. She finished her final season with the club as top scorer with 40 goals in 41 games.
Returning to Arsenal for a year in 2015, Sanderson’s career also took her to Chelsea, Philadelphia Independence, Espanyol, DC United, Boston Breakers, Portland Thorns, Orlando Pride, Western New York Flash and, finally, Juventus, with a couple of loan clubs throw in in for good measure.
After leaving Turin, Sanderson has embarked on a career in media as a pundit, amongst other things. Her new role, however, could be the most influential yet of what has been an impressive career that saw her rewarded with 50 England caps.
With women’s football striking an historic broadcasting deal, it finally feels like the powers-that-be have realised there is money to be made from the game and moves are being made globally towards enhancing coverage.
ICM Stellar sports, who represent such players as Kieran Tierney, Wojciech Szczesny, Rob Holding, Alex Runarsson, Mason Mount, Jack Grealish, Eduardo Camavinga, Ben Chilwell, Gareth Bale and loads of others, have sensed their chance to grab a slice of the pie before it gets carved up too small.
Stellar write on their website, “With a new TV deal for the FA Women’s Super League, worth upwards of £45million, and rising interest among media and sponsors, the women’s game is in the best shape it has ever been.
“It was estimated that well over a billion people watched the 2019 Women’s World Cup, with the BBC reporting more than 28 million people watched their coverage of the tournament.
“ICM Stellar Sports have an Elite Women’s Sports division, which is headed by sports agent Laura Doyle, with the football section of this now overseen by England star Lianne Sanderson.”
Sanderson said, “The chance to really make a difference to the woman’s game is a very exciting opportunity and one that I fully intend to make my own.
“Women’s football is finally getting the visibility and support it deserves and while we are a very long way off from matching the sort of deals you see in the Premier League things are moving slowly in the right direction.
“What women football players really need is protection. At the moment a lot of players are having to negotiate their own contracts, which puts them at a big disadvantage and often they can feel pressured to agreeing things.
“Agents do so much more for clients than negotiate transfers; it’s about mentoring, helping with mental health, taking up commercial opportunities, making sure they can concentrate about football and not have to worry about a million other things. Having proper representation will really start to challenge that inequality.
“There’s a big gap in the resources of different clubs that needs to be addressed and one of my aims is to help players in the WSL2,” she added. “There’s lots of great players who have to hold down full-time jobs on top of playing, it would be great if we could help that league become stronger.”