In 2016, Football Leaks revealed the most obscure and puzzling clauses in the contracts of players and some rather interesting football contract clauses came to light. For example, Raheem Sterling’s contract clauses found their way into the public domain.
Football contract clauses are common when negotiating an agreement between the club and the player. Often they will include a minimum release fee or, perhaps, a clause stating that the player will receive a percentage of his future transfer fee if he is sold. Here are a few of the more common football clauses that are present in almost every football player’s contract.
Standard Football Contract Clauses
The Release Clause
The release clause is one of the more straightforward football contract clauses. It states that if a another club offers an amount equal to or more than the stated amount, it must be accepted by the club. If a rival makes a bid matching the player’s release clause, the player’s club must automatically accept the bid and give the player the permission to start negotiating with the interested party. In Spain particularly, it has become common to insert huge release clauses into the contracts of star players. Lionel Messi has a rumored buyout clause of €250 million, while Cristiano Ronaldo is said to have had a buyout clause of €1 billion during his time at Real Madrid.
Another of the football contract clauses commonly inserted is the buy-back clause. This names a specific that the selling club can pay if they wish to bring the player back at a later date. This type of football contract clause is mostly utilized when the selling club believes the player has the potential to be worth more in the future. In this way they can buy the player back below market value. Sometimes they will do this to add to their own squad or, sometimes, with the purpose of selling the player right away for an instant profit. More recently, the buy-back clause has been used to circumvent European Financial Fair Play. This is done by selling a player for high price (often overpriced) with buy-back clause in the contract. In this way the selling club has lots of “new” incoming transfer money, but is actually obliged to buy back the player a few years later.
Percentage of Next Sale Clause
When selling a younger player, teams will often lock in a percentage on next sale through football contract clauses. They are then entitled to a specific amount of the player’s next transfer fee when they make their next move. It’s a worthwhile clause to insert into the contracts of young players who may or may not achieve their potential in the game.
However, not all football contract clauses are as straightforward as these. Let’s have a look at 8 of the weirdest football contract clauses ever negotiated.
8 Bizarre Football Contract Clauses
Mario Balotelli – Good Conduct Clause
Everybody knows that Mario Balotelli has a reputation for being an ‘enfant terrible’. It was the biggest reason why AC Milan offloaded him in 2014.
After Luis Suarez departed Liverpool for Barcelona, the Reds decided to take a risk sign the Italian as a replacement. To be sure that Balotelli didn’t step out of line, Liverpool added a waiver in his contract stating he would have to leave the club if he did so.
The Italian scored just 4 goals in 28 appearances and, at the end of the season, was judged by many to be among the worst signings of the year. The now 29-year old moved to Nice in 2016 after a loan spell with AC Milan.
Dennis Bergkamp – Flying Clause
Though undoubtedly one of the greatest strikers in Premier League history, Bergkamp did have one flaw; he suffered from a fear of flying and refused to travel by plane. Obviously, with with the UK being an island, this created issues with away fixtures in Europe. As such, he had football contract clauses stating that he would not have to travel with the club when flying was the only option. Bergkamp still spent eleven seasons with the Gunners and, ultimately, became a club legend.
Luis Suarez – Biting Clause
Luis Suarez joined Barcelona in 2014 and the Blaugrana, according to Football Leaks, paid £64.98m for the striker.
During the 2014 World Cup, Suarez bit Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini in one of the most bizarre incidents in football history. Surprisingly, it wasn’t even the first time the Uruguay international had bit another player. Whilst playing at Ajax in 2010, he was suspended for seven games for biting PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal on the shoulder.
That’s why Barcelona allegedly added a ‘no biting’ close in his contract. Though Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has since denied that such a clause exists.
Giuseppe Reina – Lego House Clause
German striker Giuseppe Reina signed for Arminia Bielefeld in 1996 with a contract which stipulated the club would have to build a new house for him every year he was at the club. Surprisingly, the club happily accepted the outrageous demands. But why?
Well, the striker should perhaps have hired a better lawyer to stipulate the details in the contract. The type or size of house was apparently never specified, so the player ended up with a model house made of Lego each season he was playing for Arminia Bielefeld. Though tricking your players is perhaps not the best way to keep them happy, it was the club who had the last laugh.
Matija Nastasic – Adidas Boot Clause
With clubs signing their own lucrative sponsorship deals with clothing manufacturers, such football contract clauses are not uncommon in the game. However, according to Football Leaks, the Serbian defender had a specific exemption in his contract.
“If the player proves to Schalke 04 that he can’t wear Adidas shoes for medical reasons, he is allowed to wear shoes of another brand. As soon as this proof is no longer given, the player will play and practise with Adidas shoes.”
Unsurprisingly, Nastasic was soon able to obtain a medical exemption and subsequently wore Nike boots during his stay at Gelsenkirchen.
Stefan Schwarz – Space Ban Clause
Around the millennium, it was believed that the first commercial passenger flights would launch in the year 2002. The Swedish midfielder had repeatedly expressed his fascination with space and his desire to join one of these flights but the Sunderland management were understandably reluctant to allow that to happen. Therefore they added a very specific stipulation to the agreement: no space flights whatsoever!
Samuel Eto’o – Private Jet Clause
Eto’o made a surprising move to the Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala from Inter Milan in 2011. He signed three-year deal which made him the world’s highest-paid player, with a salary of close to £20m million per season.
In his contract, the former Cameroon international included a private jet clause, stating that the club would have to provide him with travel via a private jet. The reason? Eto’o wanted to live in the more attractive Moscow rather than Makhachkala and demanded that the private jet would carry him to and from his home.
Ronaldinho – Night Club Clause
It’s widely known that Ronaldinho enjoyed partying during his career and many analysts believe the Brazilian couldn’t have been even better if that wasn’t the case. In 2011, when he joined Flamengo from AC Milan, he took inspiration from the Beastie Boys lyrics; you gotta fight for your right to party.
Ronaldinho demanded football contract clauses in his Flamengo contract that allowed him to go clubbing twice a week without getting a fine or other repercussions.
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