In 1999 Ulrich Ferber founded the consulting agency fair-sport GmbH, which counts or counted stars such as Joshua Kimmich, Mario Gomez, Bernd Leno and Aleksandr Hleb among its clients. What initially served as a hobby quickly developed into a business for Ferber. About a year ago, the current manager of a family-run hotel in Aspach retired from active business.
In an interview with SPOX and goal the 61-year-old, who takes care of his wife Andrea Berg’s hit business in addition to football, talks about the bizarre circumstances of the Hleb deal to Stuttgart and major protests against Joshua Kimmich’s move to Leipzig.
Ferber also explains how the consulting business has changed over time and what impact the corona pandemic could have on the acceptance of football in society.
Mr. Ferber, you are a trained baker and pastry chef and you run your family-run hotel in Aspach. How did you become a consultant?
Ulrich Ferber: I grew up with a passion for football. Many teams stayed at our hotel during their training camps in the 1980s and 1990s. As a result, and thanks to my commitment to SG Sonnenhof Großaspach, where I had been working on a voluntary basis in various functions since the 1980s, I was able to get to know a lot of great people. Over time I was asked for help more and more often. I acted as a networker for national and international clubs that served us and took care of organizational matters. I enjoyed that, but at the time I never thought about using it as a second mainstay. Rather, it was a hobby that I could later earn good money with, but I would never have given up our family business for it. The classic consultant didn’t even exist back then.
Ferber: I started to work even more closely with the teams, but not in the classic sense of a consultant. Back then there were game brokers who brought teams to Germany from abroad. For example, I took care of equipment contracts, the procurement of team buses or the organization of training facilities. Later I was contacted by clubs about certain players.
What was the first deal you threaded?
Ferber: The transfer of Lajos Detari in 1988 from Eintracht Frankfurt to Olympiacos Piraeus, at 7.5 million marks the most expensive in Bundesliga history at the time. Piraeus was with us in the hotel and the President Koskotas told me about the interest in Detari. I then organized lawyers for him and made the necessary contacts. Ultimately, I was in charge of the largest transfer at the time, without a fee.
What conditions did you have to meet in order to be able to officially pursue the consultancy work?
Ferber: Correct. The handling of the transfer was very rocky. Hleb was with the Belarusian U18 national team in our hotel. Originally he should have signed at 1860 Munich. Helmuth Reuscher, then chief scout of the lions, discovered him during a test match against VfB. He was immediately impressed and assured me that he would get the transfer if I brought him to Germany for 300,000 marks. However, we did the math without coach Werner Lorant and President Karl-Heinz Wildmoser.
In what way?
Ferber: I stood up for the sum with the President of Borisov and couldn’t avoid it. On the way back from Munich to Aspach, I spent two hours on the phone with Ralf Rangnick, who was still a coach at VfB at the time. I played under him at FC Viktoria Backnang in the national league. I described the situation, but he said that he could not accept any new players. Ultimately, I persuaded him to let Hleb train with him for three days in Stuttgart. That was a purely amicable approach. With the burden of the transfer fee, I had to come up with something else.