Chris Nathaniel has, for several years run one of the world’s leading sports talent and entertainment management agencies – his dream is to lead a Nigerian consortium to success with a Premier League team.
Based in London, United Kingdom, and operating throughout Europe and the world for some of the top names in sport, Chris reveals how it all started for him and his team and the interesting things they do for their clients.
Chris, proud of his Nigerian roots, said: “I’ve been in the sports and entertainment business for a long time. I first started with Chelsea legend, John Terry, then Manchester United legend, Rio Ferdinand, when they were both at their peak, so two top England stars.
“I also spent time looking after Wilfred Bonny (ex-Swansea who became the highest ever paid African player with his transfer to Manchester City), Steven Nzonzi (ex-Stoke City and World Cup winner with France in 2018), Brazilian midfielder, Robinho and now Luis Diaz (Liverpool), and quite a few other players.
“I also looked after other talents like Usain Bolt and former WBC Heavyweight Boxing champion, Deontay Wilder, so sports and entertainment are in my blood. On the music front, I have worked with hip-hop icons like Jay Z, P Diddy, 50 Cent, and other talents, like models and actors, so quite experienced across the whole sports and entertainment industry.”
Nathaniel led the first ever African consortium to bid for a Premier League club Newcastle in 2008, unfortunately the bid was not accepted by then owner Mike Ashley, who eventually sold out to the Arabs.
However, Nathaniel reveals he has unfinished business and has reached out to wealthy Nigerians, including Dangote, to launch another bid for a Premier league club. Nathaniel points to the recent valuation of clubs like Manchester United and Tottenham to highlight how Premier League clubs are great takeover targets – his knowledge of club values, structures and accessibility as takeover targets is second to none.
They are all profitable businesses and give tremendous global presence and Nathaniel believes having a Nigerian owner of a top club will not only be profitable, but it will give Nigeria a greater global profile, enhancing the economy and encouraging tourism. The potential for booming business in Nigeria will then help with the general development of Nigerian football.
Chris believes football in Nigeria needs an overhaul from top to bottom very similar to what the English FA did after continued failures at major tournaments. In England this resulted in a change of fortune for the English national team, which is now challenging for trophies for the first time since winning the World Cup in 1966.
Nathaniel said: “We look after football players, we give them full support in coaching, mental health, support their passions and everything you can imagine.
“We take care of every angle for them, our job is to make sure they have long sustainable careers, make sure the right politics are played at their different football clubs, and make sure they get the best out of themselves to become the best they can be.