Elite: The son who moved in influential circles

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The Independent Online

In a city where Manchester United base their worldwide fame there was little notice paid when the Elite Sports Agency was formed three years ago.

In a city where Manchester United base their worldwide fame there was little notice paid when the Elite Sports Agency was formed three years ago.

Just a few informed observers and football agents realised that a coming force was born on the day that Jason Ferguson, the son of Sir Alex, struck out into business with his friends Francis Martin and Dave Gardner.

Ferguson had always been United through and through, pushing his father to take the manager's job when he was at Aberdeen, then becoming a player in the junior ranks with his more talented twin, Darren.

Even when Jason left football after a brief spell at the Scottish club Peterhead, he was a frustrated Red. When he began working for Granada he famously went on to the pitch at a home game to put the ball back in play.

Jason's love and knowledge of football meant he had to stay in the family firm in one way or another. His father looked for a suitable agent to take under his wing and show the boy the ropes.

Initially the former United trainee Keiran Toal worked with Jason at L'Attitude, the PR company set up by Simply Red's Mick Hucknall. Arranging testimonials and friendlies was just the start of his agent activities.

He outgrew his young friends and moved in more influential circles with Martin, a Spanish speaker with links to United who would become the official Fifa licence-holder. Man about town and one-time United prospect Gardner was useful too, as the best friend of David Beckham and Ryan Giggs.

Enter Mike Morris, one-time Bolton car tyre salesman, self-made millionaire and unofficial partner of Elite. His links to European clubs are legendary. Morris, like many agents, was discouraged by Ferguson Snr before his worth to Jason was apparent. The Monaco-based agent is very friendly with Peter Reid, who is close to Sir Alex.

United have Ricky Sbragia on the backroom team now. Also a former employee of Reid at Sunderland, he works beside the goalkeeping coach, Tony Coton, another old friend of Reid and Morris. It is all very cosy.

While Elite appears to have raked in huge fees from all sides, little is known about its financial wherewithal. The last publicly available company accounts cover only the period up to the end of March last year, and show Elite with assets of just £157,932.

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