What's in a Footballer's Contract
CW Contract Law and Legal simplify the in's and outs of a footballer's contract by CW Contract Law and Legal
Famously Robbie Fowler never looked at his Liverpool contract while Paul Gascgoine’s reportedly included a clause that demanded his accommodation be close to a fishing lake. Stefan Schwarz’s contract banned him from space-travel.
Regardless of the crazy clauses and ludicrous demands, Footballers’ contracts are often incredibly lucrative but usually incredibly complex.
But what exactly is in the mysterious pages of a professional football contract? We opened the door to a secret world inhabited by only those lucky enough to play the game professionally and wade through the ‘legalese’ to show you what goes on behind the closed boardroom doors of professional football.
The area of interest for the vast majority of football fans is the salaries of Premier League and Football League players but the reality is they are quite straightforward.
"A contract will include a basic salary, signing-on fees, loyalty fees, objectives based on games, sub-agreements for image rights and any clauses you may wish to negotiate." Matthew Buck – PFA
According to the PFA top earners in the Premier League (Wayne Rooney, Radamel Falcao) can earn upwards of £250,000 but the average player in the top flight will take home between £25,000 and £30,000 a week.
That represents a weekly income akin to the average yearly income in the United Kingdom.
The drop to League Two wages is remarkable but even players in football’s fourth division average a weekly wage between £1,300 and £1,500. That can vary wildly and some players make below the minimum wage (as revealed earlier this season by Torquay United manager Chris Hargreaves.
Financial Fair Play regulations introduced by UEFA have caused Clubs to focus on performance related earnings to drive down their wage bills and avoid any penalties.
It’s widely understood that players make a vast chunk of their change through bonus system built into the majority of players’ contracts. A short appearance from the bench could earn a player as much as £5,000 while goals, assists and clean sheets all come with a tariff.
In some contracts in the MLS players are remunerated for second assists, otherwise known as the pass that led to the pass to the player that scored.
Squads will split a bonus pot based on league positions and achievement in cup competitions and very often senior players at a club will hand their lucrative league bonuses to the junior players at a club as a gesture of goodwill.
Those bonuses can sometimes affect a player’s behaviour.
Apparently clubs are getting wise to this and have started to cut back on individual performance related bonuses; instead focussing on team achievements.
Sometimes contracts will contain unusual clauses. Upon joining Sunderland in 1999 Stefan Schwarz let slip that he would be interested in travelling into space one day so the club swiftly slapped a galactic travel clause into his contract.
Crystal Palace played host the twilight of Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock’s career and then-chairman Simon Jordan reportedly included a clause in the aging midfielder’s contract that ensured his earnings would reduce if he was found to be overweight.
Occasionally it’s not the unusual clauses that provoke bizarre behaviour but the more routine. Buy-out clauses have been widely reported recently especially in the summer of 2013 when Arsenal bid £40m and one pound to trigger the release clause in Luis Suarez’ contract. The Uruguayan never made the trip to London permanent but the story became big news overnight.
"The biggest contractual issue comes when a perceived bigger club comes in for a player, or a player is aware of the interest via an agent or the media.
Players want to better themselves but the PFA encourages players to always honour their contracts because we expect clubs to do the same."
PFA regulations are clear in the matter that if Player’s do break widely accepted rules with regards to behaviour they can only be fined a maximum of two weeks’ wages by their club. While that can seem like a paltry figure, Carlos Tevez’ tantrum in Munich cost him around £400,000.
Usually it’s much more cordial and, should a player desire to leave, he’ll waive his basic salary but would continue to be paid signing-on or loyalty fees as per his contract.
Luckily for the vast majority of people in employment, a contract is a much simpler matter than that of a footballer’s. CW Contract Law and Legal understand that and are committed to ensuring all your paperwork, contracts and legal documents are spelt out in language you understand.
To get in touch with CW Contract Law and Legal click here or call 0161 333 121 for a no charge no obligation discussion about how we can add value to your business proposition through a legally compliant affordable concise contract.Click here to stay up to date with AtTheMatch