Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and 10 Bizarre Contract Clauses
Those wondering why Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made so many appearances from Arsenal's bench after the 71st minute last season were given an explanation by the Daily Mail today.
The newspaper revealed a clause in The Ox's contract that stipulates the Gunners must pay Southampton a £10,000 appearance fee whenever he plays for 20 minutes or more. Clearly, Arsene Wenger has let his own frugality dictate his team selection.
This kind of appearance fee clause is surprisingly common in football contracts, but sometimes some rather more bizarre terms and conditions are written into the agreement. Here's some of the strangest examples...
Neil Ruddock's Weight Watching
Defensive enforcer Neil Ruddock was always a little on the "jolly" side, and when he joined Crystal Palace in the autumn of his career, chairman Simon Jordan took measures to ensure he didn't pile on any extra pounds. 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."
Razor Ruddock was fined eight times for being overweight in less than six months, and failed to play in what was supposed to be his debut as the club "didn't have a pair of shorts big enough for him."
Sam Hammam's Micro Management
Lebanese businessman Sam Hammam was a constant source of high jinks while he owned Wimbledon FC, not least when he scrawled insulting messages about his own team in an away dressing room to rile up his troops.
The Crazy Gang owner showed his partiality to contract tomfoolery in 1987, when he employed the manager who masterminded the Dons' famous FA Cup giant slaying of Liverpool, Bobby Gould. According to The Guardian, Hammam inserted a clause giving him the right to change the team lineup up to 45 minutes before any game.
Thankfully, Gould insists that his boss never put the clause into use.
Stig Inge Bjornebye's Skiing Suppressant
Most top-flight footballers have contract stipulations banning them from dangerous extreme sports or even owning a motorbike, but Liverpool left-back Stig Inge Bjornebye's ski slope ban was snow joke (sorry).
The Norwegian's father was a keen ski jumper in his youth, a sport that his father excelled at in the Olympics. To prevent any injuries on the piste, Liverpool banned him from any skiing-related activity as per The Guardian, with some suggesting he wasn't even allowed within 200 yards of a ski slope.
Georg Koch's Racism Get-out
In 1997 German goalkeeper Georg Koch moved to PSV Eindhoven, but only spent three months in Holland before returning home to play for Arminia Bielefeld.
Why such a short stay? Apparently he had inserted a clause in his contract stating he could leave the club any time he suffered racist hostility. Being a German in the Netherlands, it didn't take long for the abuse to result in a swift exit.
Stefan Schwarz's Space Oddity
Upon signing for Sunderland in 1999, one of Stefan Schwarz's advisors had a seat booked on one the first commercial space flights that was due to take off in 2002.
The BBC reported that the Black Cats were so worried that the Swedish midfielder was travelling into space—primarily for insurance reasons—that they banned him from breaching the atmosphere in his four-year contract.
Seeing as commercial space travel hasn't taken off 14 years later, they might have been smarter to pay him solely in first-class galactic travel.
Rolf-Christel Guié-Mien's Culinary Clause
According to the ever-useful Guardian Knowledge column, Congolese midfielder Rolf-Christel Guié-Mien would only sign for Eintracht Frankfurt in 1999 if it could be contractually arranged for his wife to take cooking classes.
Presumably, Mrs. Guié-Mien wasn't too offended by the implication.
Bernd Stange's War Plan
German journeyman manager Bernd Stange took on a job coaching the Iraq national team in 2002, at around the same time that the US military was gearing up to increase their presence in the Middle East.
According to ESPNFC, Stange insisted on a clause in his contract that would release him from any obligation should a war break out. He also had another clause which meant he would not have to face political questions in interviews.
Giuseppe Reina's Property Proviso
German striker Giuseppe Reina signed for German side Arminia Bielefeld (the team who took in the verbally abused Georg Koch) in 1996 under the condition that they would build him a house for every year of his contract, according to The Guardian.
Sadly, Reina didn't negotiate the size of the house, which meant he was probably presented with something made from Lego at the start of each of his three seasons with the club.
Spencer Prior's Sheep Supper
Aforementioned former Wimbledon owner Sam Hammam eventually moved on to Cardiff, where in 2001 he insisted that new signing Spencer Prior eat a sheep's testicle, via the BBC.
This wasn't a slight on Cardiff's Welsh disposition, but an insistence that the defender show his commitment with a traditional Lebanese delicacy.
Prior refused to eat it raw, but to his credit, he showed some...testicular fortitude by eating it cooked with lemon and parsley.
Eugen Hach's Relegation Trap
You may have noticed that a great deal of these crazy clauses involve Germans, and here's one more to finish on.
Eugen Hach was manager of 2. Bundesliga side Alemannia Aachen in 1999, knowing that he had a clause in his contract stating he could be sacked at any time if the club was less then three points above the relegation zone after the eighth day of the season.
He was released due to this clause in 2001, and later stated that he accepted the condition as he "had a strong belief in the team."