Football's weirdest contract clauses: sheep's nuts, space travel and more

Mario Balotelli, Nice contract clause

10. Spencer Prior, Cardiff City  

Sam Hammam loved a contract, so he must have had a glint in his eye when Prior put pen to paper in 2001. According to the deal, Prior had to have “a physical liaison with a sheep and eat sheep’s testicles” during his Ninian Park stay. The ever-reasonable Hammam did make some concessions of his own, though. “Of course he can have lemon, salt and parsley with the dish,” he said. Cheers. 

9. Stig Inge Bjornebye, Liverpool 

Liverpool were on a slippery slope when the Norwegian arrived on Merseyside in 1992, but Bjornebye couldn’t take advantage. There was a clause inserted into his contract strictly forbidding him from taking part in any on-piste activity, which put the kibosh on him emulating his father’s feats as a ski-jumper. 

8. Stefan Schwarz, Sunderland 

You know the scenario. You sit down with a player to discuss demands and ask if there’s anything they really fancy doing during their time at the club. What was that, Stefan? Space travel? Erm, I don’t think so. “At the end of the day we are protecting the club really,” said Sunderland chief executive John Fickling, before adding with a straight face: “One day it could become be quite acceptable to put such clauses in various contracts.”

According to the deal, Prior had to have 'a physical liaison with a sheep and eat sheep’s testicles' during his Ninian Park stay

7. Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid

He cost Madrid a cool £80m, and after setting the Bernabeu ablaze they’re clearly never going to be keen on letting him go. According to Madrid’s Marca newspaper, bidding for any potential Ronaldo buyer would have to begin at €1bn. Looks like he’s going nowhere in a hurry, then. 

6. David Villa, Barcelona 

The Barcelona striker became the first player in history to have an anti-racism clause included in his contract when he arrived at the Nou Camp from Valencia in 2010 – setting a trend that looks set to take off. “It's the first time that a contract has been signed with an anti-racism clause included, as introduced by the European Club Association. From now on we will include it in all new contracts,” said Barça president Joan Laporta. 

Next: Poor King Kev... 

5. Kevin Keegan, Newcastle  

When King Kev stormed off his throne and hurled his crown into the Tyne for the final time in September 2008, he embarked on a lengthy legal battle to claim upwards of £24m from Newcastle for compensation and 'stigma damages'. A clause in his contract, though, limited that sum to a paltry £2m. Poor Kev.

4. Ronaldinho, Milan

Things got so bad for the Brazilian that, for a brief period, it looked like he could even end his playing career at Ewood Park. He certainly wasn’t going anywhere else in Italy after his employers at the San Siro inserted an anti-Italy clause in his contract, preventing him from plying his trade anywhere else in the country.

3. Frank Pagelsdorf, Hamburg

So close was the relationship between manager and president that Pagelsdorf had a clause included in his contract that enabled him to leave if Uwe Seller should no longer occupy the top job. In keeping with the law of sod, Pagelsdorf’s office chair was barely warm when Seller departed the club, but the manager decided to tough it out – and stayed for four years. 

2. Jose Mourinho, Inter

The Portuguese legend has never been one for selling himself short, so it should come as no surprise that he worked Inter hard during contract negotiations. “My contract is simple,” he said in March 2010. “I’ve got another three years, with a clause that allows me to leave whenever I want.” Who were Inter to argue. 

1. Nuri Sahin, Liverpool 

The Reds were interested in snapping up the Dormund star – and the Bundesliga’s youngest-ever scorer – in January 2012 but were denied by the small print in the Turkish midfielder's contract. The clause in question stated any club 'challenging for a title' could sign him for a bid in excess of £5m. Ouch. They got him on a season-long loan that summer instead.

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