STEWART MACGREGOR does not easily fit the stereotypical image of a football agent. The trappings of the modern game and the spoils of a high-stock portfolio yielding huge dividends are not for him.

Macgregor may be an agent but he is also a born-again Christian and once worked at a football club as a chaplain. The world of dodgy deals and brown envelopes is not one he recognises. He says he has never tried to entice a player to join his agency but he has been on the receiving end of such an approach. He accepts it is part of the world he inhabits.

He is also a man who has given over the last five years of his life to changing perceptions through his Ark Sports agency. Yes, after Noah’s Ark. It may all sound a little trite or even naive, but the 39-year-old from Cumbernauld is no fool.

“About five- and-a-half years ago a thought came to me – it seemed out of nowhere – to set up a football agency,” he says. “It had never been a desire, it had never been something I had planned. I had little idea really, like many fans, about what they did – only the perception of them. I spent about a year doing some due diligence and just speaking to anybody I could who knew footballers or were retired footballers.”

For 14 years, Macgregor has worked in financial recruitment. Today, he heads up a professional services business for one of the biggest firms in Scotland, if not the UK. In short, he has made his money. Instead he is motivated by a sense of duty, to provide a more ethical approach to advising players drawing on all of his experience from his years in the recruitment game.

“Careers in football are very short. I feel it’s essential that the advice they get is the right advice and it’s selfless advice. I think that it is very easy to be swayed. As far as I’m concerned the role of an agent is to get a player what he wants but it is also to give them the information that they may not be privy to.”

He does not profess to know all the answers; this week he agreed the deal that took Darren Brownlie from Queen of the South to Partick Thistle. The transfer was agreed last Friday and then the defender was asked to play for Gary Naysmith’s side against Alloa on the Saturday, thus placing the deal in jeopardy. Macgregor found himself in uncharted territory.

Other agents might have pulled their player out for the sake of the deal but the 39-year-old did not deviate from his raison d’etre.

“I haven’t been in that position before, maybe it happens all the time,” he says. “This was a particularly difficult situation for the player but Darren is a very good sort so there was never the threat of him downing tools or saying he had a tummy bug. I had six players at Queen of the South last season and I have a fondness for the club, so it was never a case of ‘we need to get Darren out of there’. I have too much respect for the club for that to be the case.”

Brownlie is just one of a stable of 35 professional footballers, a growing group of managers and a fledgling partnership with an agency in Peru. It has been a steady ascent for Ark.

Back in 2015, there was just one player: Josh Todd, whom Macgregor moved from Dundee to Falkirk this week and who was introduced to him by the head of sports chaplaincy in Scotland, Mark Fleming just as he was finishing his year-long process of due diligence.

He contemplated putting the idea on the back burner when his mother-in-law died following a health issue but he decided to carry on.

“The day after the funeral I had arranged to go down to Gretna outlets to take my wife away, something to do on the day after, and I got word on the way down that Josh wanted to meet. It just so happened that he was from a little place called Canonbie – it was about half-an-hour from Gretna. I had to rush to Marks and Spencer’s to buy a suit and a shirt and tie because that was my perception of how you had to appear and I got changed in a hotel toilet to go out and meet Josh.”

The rest is history. Macgregor calls Todd a friend these days and his agency – which is a sideline business for him – has since flourished from those humble origins. He is at pains to point out that he has remained true to an ethical approach that places a heavy emphasis on word of mouth.

“What we don’t do is target what the market would consider exciting, young talented players.

“You can’t say you are honest and have integrity and not do it. As soon as I do something that is perceived to be dishonest or something similar I can no longer say that that’s what we are. The one thing I am very, very strict on and I’ll never move away from is that we do not speak to footballers that have agents. We just don’t do it.”

When it is put to Macgregor that his approach is quite rare in a cut-throat game he agrees.

“It may be but as far as I’m concerned I wouldn’t particularly like anybody to poach my players so I think it’s only right that you treat people with the same respect. It has happened to me.”

And how did he react?

“Probably badly, to be fair. I’m quite protective of them. I stick up for them like a big brother. I contacted the agent directly and said ‘if you think you can get us a better deal then give me a call, here’s my number. I’m more than happy to talk it through, if you think I’ve dropped the ball somewhere’. But that invitation wasn’t taken up.”

Underpinning Macgregor’s way of operating is his faith. He was born into a Christian household and rebelled against it, saying that the quietest him and his brother would be was on a Sunday in the hope that his mother and father would sleep in to save them the drudgery of another dreaded trip to church. Then in his late 20s after years of “going round and round in circles” he returned to the flock, this time at a new church, one that he says is “life giving”.

In football’s less enlightened circles, this could be seen as an oddity in an insular world where people who are different tend to stand out but Macgregor says it has not been much of a factor.

“I got a phone call on Sunday past from a Championship manager in Scotland,” he says. “We had been in the final throes of doing a deal and the deal had been offered and rejected and he texted me to ask what the latest was and I sent a message saying ‘I’m in church just now, I’ll give you a wee call about half seven’ and when I did call he said ‘that is the first time in all my years in football that I have phoned an agent and he’s told me he can’t speak because he’s in church’. It turns out his dad was a church elder and he told me it was ‘incredibly refreshing’ to hear.”

He says his faith helps when the self-doubt of working as someone who had no connection to football and did not play professionally creeps in. The former Ayr United striker Ally Graham is employed by Macgregor as his eyes and his ears. Macgregor needs to know what his players are feeling, even if he has never felt it himself and that’s where Graham comes in.

If Macgregor seems something of a rarity if not an utter incongruity in modern football then his admission that he has not profited from his position as an agent almost beggars belief.

“This isn’t a normal business start-up. There’s a few reasons for that. I haven’t taken any money out of Ark Sport. It’s not about that. I am very well remunerated in what I am and what I do. The only thing that I have to invest that I don’t get back is my time.”