US group acquires football’s biggest British talent agency in multi-billion-pound takeover

UK-based Stellar Group, one of the world’s biggest football talent agencies, has been acquired by US firm ICM Partners in a “multi-billion” pound takeover, it has been announced.

Run by football “super-agent” Jonathan Barnett, who was named Forbes magazine’s “top sports agent in the world” in 2019, Stellar Group is responsible for international stars including Everton’s Jordan Pickford and Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish.

Mr Barnett co-founded Stellar Group with business partner David Manasseh in 1992, which now represents over 800 athletes and boasts a contract portfolio worth £2.5 billion. Notably, the 70-year-old also brokered the then-world record transfer deal which saw Gareth Bale move from Tottenham to Real Madrid in 2013.

The takeover will see Mr Barnett named as Executive Chairman of the new group, ICM Stellar Sports.

According to ICM Partners, the acquisition will provide Stellar Group clients “with the expertise and impact of a major US-based full-service entertainment agency to further develop their off the field earning potential”, while ICM’s clients “gain access to world-class athletes to develop properties across the spectrum of creative and distribution platforms”.

Announcing the deal, Chris Silbermann, CEO of ICM Partners, said: “With connectivity speeding the process, the sports, entertainment, music, media and publishing worlds have converged. Clients have greater opportunities than ever before to be multi-dimensional, multi-media brands.

“Aligning our wonderful and talented entertainment clients with Stellar’s premiere athletes is a powerful combination. Together we will be even better positioned to maximize this convergence and generate tremendous creative opportunities and financial upside for our global client base. In Jonathan Barnett, David Manasseh and the Stellar Group we have found the perfect partners and together we look forward to advancing our clients aspirations across the world.”

Mr Barnett added: “In Chris Silbermann and ICM Partners we have found the ideal partner to help our clients further their earning potential in an ever flattening world where athletes are brands with global appeal across numerous off the field revenue streams, which ICM will help us cultivate and exploit. They share our enthusiasm to enrich our clients’ opportunities as well as expand our North American representation business which is very exciting for us.”

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Mohit Pasricha

Mohit Pasricha

Solicitor at Mackrell.Solicitors
Mohit is a solicitor and Head of Sports Law at Mackrell.Solicitors, advising and representing clients within the sports sector by providing specialist advice on a wide range of commercial, corporate and intellectual property matters. His clients include clubs, commercial sponsors, sports agents, and individual sporting professionals.