Once a club enters into a contract with a player, there will be a variety of duties that the club and player must keep to until the end of the deal. The contract between a player and a club is important in order, for example, that a club can secure the future of its players who are highly valued – by way of both salary paid and transfer fee that could be received. Contracts protect the player (i.e. he will be paid) and the club (i.e. they can keep a player they don’t want to sell or to demand a large transfer fee for). There are relatively few sectors where companies will pay huge transfer fees to release an employee from a contract. Lawyers (even this one!) are not in such a position as to have another law firm bid millions of pounds for their services.
All Premier League and Football League player employment contracts are based on a standard template contract and contain common clauses. The document is available online and sets out a wide variety of obligations. This obviously doesn’t include the financial details for each individual player. Standard clauses include:
1. The player’s salary and the amounts to be paid by the club.
2. The responsibilities of the player, including: attending matches; training; complying with club instructions (and not, for example, going skiing or riding a motorbike – Carlo Cudicini, the ex-Spurs and Chelsea goalkeeper, did the latter and broke his wrist and pelvis); not bringing the club into disrepute (by, for example, posting a tweet badmouthing the chairman or manager).
3. The responsibilities of the club – to release the player for national team matches, for example.
4. Disciplinary and dispute procedures where the club will investigate and decide upon breaches of contract, or failures to observe the contract (if, for example, a player fails to turn up for training, fights with other teammates or refuses to play for the team).
5. Termination of the contract by the club (e.g. for taking drugs) and/or by the player (e.g. for the club not paying his salary).
6. Community public relations and club marketing duties (such as meeting kids in hospital over Christmas).
The most important aspect for a player will be his salary. Sometimes this is based on a higher basic amount and a smaller variable amount. The variable figures usually relate to the number of bonuses a club may offer, and examples are set out below.