Sir Bobby Robson, Italia 90

Sir Bobby Robson, Italia 90

Sir Bobby Robson, Italia 90



A couple of weeks ago, BBC Sport’s Alistair Magowan did a piece on footballer’s contracts.

According to Magowan:

“Robbie Fowler admits he never looked at his. Paul Gascoigne’s reportedly stated he must live close to a fishing lake. And Stefan Schwarz’s banned him from travelling into space.”

Footballers’ contracts sometimes have bizarre clauses inserted into them. Here are eleven of the wisest, strangest, funniest, saddest and most misguided:

1)      Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s contract with Arsenal stipulates that the Gunners must pay Southampton a £10,000 appearance fee whenever the Ox plays for 20 minutes or more.

2)      Defensive enforcer Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock was always a little on the “robust” side, and upon joining Crystal Palace towards the end of his playing career, Palace Chairman Simon Jordan took measures to ensure Razor didn’t eat any more pies.

He says in his autobiography ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’:

“On approaching West Ham I discovered he was a free transfer, although he did have a weighty salary—which was not the only weighty thing about him. Harry Redknapp, the West Ham manager at the time, told me to put in a weight clause. So I decided to put a 10 per cent penalty on the contract we were proposing to offer him if he was over the recommended weight of 99.8kg, which by the way was still frigging huge.”

Ruddock received eight fines in six months for being overweight. He also failed to play in what was supposed to be his Palace debut as the kit man allegedly didn’t have a pair of shorts big enough to fit him!

3)      When Stig Inge Bjornebye joined Liverpool in 1992 he let slip that his main passion outside of football was ski-jumping. His father, Jo Inge Bjornebye, was a two time Norwegian Olympic ski jumper, and Stig wanted to follow in his footsteps (ski tracks) when he was a kid. Liverpool put a swift end to any plans Bjornebye’s may have had of launching himself into the air and using the V-technique with a clause that meant the full-back couldn’t go within 200 yards of a ski-slope!

4)      Wimbledon’s Sam Hammam is said to have put a clause in manager Bobby Gould’s contract that he [Hammam] retained the right to change the Wimbledon starting line-up up to 45 minutes before kick-off if he so desired.

5)      Veteran German manager Bernd Stange agreed to become the head coach of the Iraqi national side in 2002. However, through carefully inserted clauses in his contract with Iraq, Stange ensured that he’d be allowed to leave any political questions in interviews unanswered and be allowed to quit his job without financial penalty should war break out at any point. His contract lawyers certainly earned their corn that day!

6)      Stefan Schwarz of Sunderland expressed an interest in becoming a passenger on the first commercial space flight when he joined the Black Cats. Not being keen on their midfielder becoming an astronaut, the club added a ‘no going into space’ cancellation clause in his contract just to make sure this didn’t happen whilst he was playing for them.

7)      When Spencer Prior signed for Cardiff in 2001, Chairman Sam Hammam (him again!) inserted a clause into Prior’s contract stating that the defender would have to “have physical relations with a sheep and eat sheep’s testicles” before he was allowed to play. Allowed to eschew the the “physical relations with a sheep” stipulation, Prior was still made to eat the sheep’s sweetbreads. Sensibly, he refused to eat them raw but begrudgingly tucked in after they were cooked and seasoned with salt, parsley and lemon juice. He managed to force down a plateful only to be told afterwards by Hammam that it was really shaped pieces of chicken all along!

8)      German goalkeeper Georg Koch signed for PSV Eindhoven but only spent three months in Holland before leaving. The reason for such a short stay? Koch had apparently inserted a clause that stated he could leave the club any time if he suffered any form of racist hostility. The Dutch have a reputation for tolerance but they also really don’t like the Germans so Dutch away fans didn’t take long to make their feelings about Koch known. Whilst it’s sad that Koch was abused, surely he must have known what he was letting himself in for when he signed for PSV?

9)      According to The Guardian, Congolese midfielder Rolf-Christel Guié-Mien would reportedly only sign for Eintracht Frankfurt if it could be contractually arranged for his wife to take cooking classes.

10)  The Guardian also reported that German striker Giuseppe Reina signed for German side Arminia Bielefeld (the team who took in the verbally abused Georg Koch) in 1996 on condition that they built him a house for every year of his contract. However, the size of the house wasn’t specified, so it could well have been a doll’s house!

11)  German manager Eugen Hach had such faith in his abilities and his team, Alemannia Aachen, that he had a clause inserted in his contract stating he could be sacked at any time if the club was less than three points above the relegation zone after the eighth day of the season. Hach lasted less than two years before the clause was activated and Alemannia Aachen dispensed with his services.