Football’s strangest contract negotiations

The intimate details of contract negotiations are rarely revealed to the public, but when a man who’s been promised a fleet of tractors doesn’t get his fleet of tractors, you can be damn sure he’s going to kick off to the press about it.

That’s what the father of 17-year-old Juventus forward Moise Kean did this week, when he complained to Tuttosport that the Old Lady had reneged on their agreement to equip his farming business in the Ivory Coast, casting a cloud over his son’s future at the club.

“Juventus offered a contract of €700,000-a-year, which was fine, but the problem is they had also promised me some tractors for my agricultural business in the Ivory Coast, but now they say there is no budget for them,” said Biorou Kean.

“I’ve got several hectares of land in the Ivory Coast which I would like to cultivate with rice and corn. I asked for this agricultural machinery and they told me there wouldn’t be any problems, but now things have changed.”

In November 2016, Kean junior became the first player born in the 2000s to appear in one of Europe’s five major leagues when he made his debut against Pescara, and three days later he broke the same record in the Champions League when he came off the bench against Sevilla.  

Having been tipped to make a name for himself at Juventus, it’s somewhat bizarre that he could now end up leaving due to an argument over missing tractors – but Kean isn’t the first footballer to become embroiled in such unusual contract negotiations.

Stefan Schwarz

Perhaps the most famous clause ever inserted into a footballer’s contract is the space travel ban Sunderland imposed on Stefan Schwarz when he signed from Valencia in 1999. With one of Schwarz’s representatives securing a place on a commercial flight to the great beyond, quick-thinking Black Cats officials ensured the Swede wouldn’t be going along for the ride. “It was a reasonable request,” chief executive John Fickling told the BBC. “We would normally get insurance cover for the player throughout the length of his contract. And like a lot of insurance policies there are certain exclusions, such as dangerous activities.” In the end it turned out Sunderland had nothing to worry about as the space trip, first scheduled for 2002, is still waiting to take off.

Mario Balotelli

Liverpool must have thought they were being clever when they promised Mario Balotelli a £1 million bonus for good behaviour during negotiations over his move to Anfield in 2014. According to The Times, all Balotelli had to do was avoid being sent off on three or more occasions – a bargain he stuck to during his one and only season in the first team. Still, it must have stung for Liverpool when they eventually had to cough up, with Balotelli managing only one league goal for the club as well as being banned by the FA for an offensive Instagram post. Add to that the uproar over his half-time shirt-swap with Pepe in the Reds’ Champions League defeat to Real Madrid, and it’s fair to say the clause spectacularly backfired.

Stig Inge Björnebye

Another former Liverpool player whose contract was given special attention is Norwegian full-back Stig Inge Björnebye. Upon joining the Reds in 1992, it was revealed that Björnebye was a keen ski-jumper whose father competed for his homeland at the 1968 and 1972 Winter Olympics. Liverpool understandably wanted to safeguard against their new arrival following in the family tradition, and so Björnebye was banned from hitting the slopes for the duration of his stay at Anfield.

Spencer Prior

Former Cardiff owner Sam Hammam had an ‘interesting’ sense of humour that revealed itself when the club acquired Spencer Prior from Manchester City in 2001. Before signing on the dotted line, Prior had to agree to eating a sheep’s testicle, which Hammam assured him was a Lebanese delicacy. Presumably after some hesitation, the defender obliged, with Hammam at least allowing him to season the dish with lemon, salt and parsley.

Giuseppe Reina

When it comes to contract negotiations, attention to detail is vital. German striker Giuseppe Reina’s lack of legal understanding proved his undoing at Arminia Bielefeld, when he realised he’d been done up like a kipper by the club’s commitment to building him a new house for each year of his contract. Reina must have been delighted when Arminia agreed to his demands, but having failed to stipulate the size of the house he required, the forward was promptly presented with a Lego model.

Special mentions to…

Dennis Bergkamp’s contract clause that exempted the non-flying Dutchman from playing in Arsenal away games that required the team to travel by plane.

Neil Ruddock’s Crystal Palace deal that stated he would be docked 10% of his salary every time he exceeded his weight limit of 99.8kg. Apparently he was fined eight times in six months.

Luis Suarez’s supposed ‘no-bite’ clause at Barcelona, following three previous incidents.

Football’s strangest contract negotiations
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