Weird contract clauses
Footballers’ contracts are a complicated business these days, with a range of bonuses and exemptions related to both on-field and off-field matters included as a matter of course. In this slideshow, we pick out nine of the most bizarre contract clauses…
9. Spencer Prior, Cardiff
Cardiff chairman Sam Hammam must have had a glint in his eye when Prior put pen to paper on a deal with the Welsh outfit in 2001. The defender, signed for £700,000 from Manchester City, was instructured to have “a physical liaison with a sheep and eat sheep’s testicles” by the terms of his contract.
“We’ll serve them in a lemon and parsley sauce,” sniggered the madcap Hammam, who had once told his Wimbledon players they would be made to eat camel brains if the Dons conceded too many goals.
8. Stig Inge Bjornebye, Liverpool
History records that Liverpool were on a slippery slope when the Norwegian international arrived on Merseyside in 1992, but the left-back couldn’t take advantage: there was a clause inserted into his contract strictly forbidding him from taking part in any on-piste activity.
The Reds knew that Bjornebye loved to ski, with his father Jo having represented his country at the Winter Olympics in 1968. The younger man ultimately chose the football pitch over the slopes, and Liverpool insisted it remained that way during his time at Anfield.
7. 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’re protecting the club really,” said Sunderland chief executive John Fickling, before adding with a straight face: “One day it could become quite acceptable to put such clauses in various contracts.”
6. David Villa, Barcelona
The Barcelona striker became the first player in history to have an anti-racism clause inserted into his contract when he arrived at the Camp Nou from Valencia in 2010 – setting a trend which has since taken 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.
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'.
Yet Keegan clearly hadn’t read the small print in his contract. Despite winning his constructive dismissal case, the Magpies only had to cough up £2m due to a clause in their former manager’s deal.
4. Ronaldinho, Milan
Ronaldinho’s career took such a downturn in the late 2000s that it looked like he would end his playing days at Ewood Park. Blackburn ultimately failed in their ambitious pursuit of the Brazilian legend – another name on Rovers’ list of near-misses, which also includes Zinedine Zidane and Robert Lewandowski – but their approach made sense due to an anti-Italy clause in Ronaldinho’s contract.
Although Milan were happy to let the playmaker seek pastures new, they didn’t want to sell him to a rival Serie A side. Ronaldinho eventually returned to Brazil with Flamengo in 2011.
3. Frank Pagelsdorf, Hamburg
So close was the relationship between manager and president that Pagelsdorf had a clause included in his contract which enabled him to leave if Uwe Seeler no longer occupied the top job at Hamburg.
In keeping with the law of sod, Pagelsdorf’s office chair was barely warming up when Seeler departed the Volksparkstadion, but the manager decided to tough it out and ended up staying put for another four years. Actions speak louder than words, Frank.
2. Jose Mourinho, Inter
Mourinho has never been one for selling himself short, so it should come as no surprise that he managed to bag himself an excellent deal at Inter.
“My contract is simple,” the Portuguese explained in March 2010, months before the Nerazzurri secured an unprecedented treble of Champions League, Serie A and Coppa Italia. “I’ve got another three years, with a clause that allows me to leave whenever I want.” Are you reading this, Ed Woodward?
1. Nuri Sahin, Borussia Dortmund
Liverpool signed Sahin on a season-long loan from Real Madrid at the start of the 2012-13 campaign, but that wasn’t the first time they had tried to land the Turkish midfielder.
The Reds initially attempted to bring Sahin to Anfield in January 2011 when he was still at Borussia Dortmund, but were denied by a clause in his contract which stated that only clubs who were “challenging for a title” could sign him for a bid in excess of £5m. A low blow, but a fair one: the Reds started that month in 12th place, below the rest of the current "big six" plus Bolton, Sunderland, Blackpool, Blackburn, Stoke - and Everton.
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