What is a release clause in soccer? A release clause is a specific clause in a player’s contract that allows them to leave their current team if another club pays a specific amount of money.
Key Takeaways From This Article:
- A release clause allows a player to leave their current club if the other team is able and willing to pay a specific amount stated in their current contract.
- A release clause is a win for the potential team, current team, and player.
- The best players in the world usually have release clauses.
Release clauses are typically included in contracts to protect both the player and the club.
For the player, it ensures that they have the opportunity to move to a new team if they receive an attractive offer.
For the club, it means that they can receive a significant fee for the player if they do decide to leave.
In this article, we’ll shed some more light on release clauses in football/soccer.
Example of a Release Clause?
The release clause is usually set at a high amount, which means that only a few teams can afford to pay it.
For example, if a player’s release clause is set at $100 million, only the richest clubs (in the Premier League) in the world would be able to afford to buy that player. It would be out of reach for most lower leagues.
Release clauses are often included in contracts to protect both the player and the team.
It’s important to note that release clauses are not mandatory and not all players have them in their contracts. It’s up to the player and their agent to negotiate the terms of the contract with the team.
How Does a Release Clause Work?
The Buyout Amount
The buyout amount is the amount of money that another team must pay to activate the release clause. This figure is usually legalized in a player’s contract.
The buyout amount can vary significantly, but it is typically a high amount that the player’s current team would be willing to accept to let the player go.
The Release Clause Activation
To activate a release clause, another team must pay the buyout amount to the player’s current team.
Once the buyout amount is paid, the player is free to negotiate a contract with the new team.
The player’s current team cannot stop the player from leaving once the release clause is activated.
The Negotiation Process
The new team may offer the player a higher salary or other incentives to persuade them to join their team.
The negotiation process can take some time, but once a contract is agreed upon, the player is free to leave their current team and join the new team.
Why Are Soccer Release Clauses Used?
Understanding these reasons can help you understand why they are so important in the sport of soccer.
Release clauses are used to protect players from being stuck in a contract that they no longer want to be in.
This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as a player wanting to move to a different team or a team not living up to their contractual obligations.
By having a release clause in their contract, players have the ability to negotiate with other teams and potentially move to a new team if they are unhappy with their current situation.
In more recent times, think of Messi and Neymar Jr. at PSG.
When a club signs a player to a contract, they are investing a lot of time and money into that player.
If that player decides to leave the team before their contract is up, the club could potentially lose out on a lot of money.
By including a release clause in the contract, the club can set a price for the player’s release that is high enough to compensate for their time and monetary investments.
When a team is interested in signing a player who has a release clause in their contract, they must pay the release clause fee to the player’s current club in order to release them from their contract.
This can be a way for teams to quickly sign new players without having to go through lengthy negotiations.
Examples of Release Clauses in Soccer
Here are a handful of notable release clauses that have come to fruition in professional soccer:
- Lionel Messi: In 2017, Lionel Messi signed a new contract with Barcelona that included a release clause of €700 million. This is one of the highest release clauses ever seen in soccer, reflecting Messi’s status as one of the sport’s greatest ever players.
- Cristiano Ronaldo: When Cristiano Ronaldo signed for Real Madrid in 2009, his contract included a release clause of €1 billion. This was the highest release clause ever seen in soccer at the time and reflected Ronaldo’s status as one of the world’s best players.
- Neymar: When Neymar signed for Paris Saint-Germain in 2017, his contract included a release clause of €222 million. This was the highest transfer fee ever paid in soccer and made Neymar the most expensive player in history.
- Kylian Mbappe: Kylian Mbappe’s contract with Paris Saint-Germain includes a release clause of €180 million, which can be activated by any club outside of France. This clause has attracted interest from some of the biggest clubs in Europe, including Real Madrid and Liverpool.
- Antoine Griezmann: When Antoine Griezmann signed a new contract with Atletico Madrid in 2018, it included a release clause of €200 million. This clause was designed to deter interest from other clubs, but Griezmann still went on to sign for Barcelona the following year.
- Luis Suarez: When Luis Suarez signed for Barcelona in 2014, his contract included a release clause of €200 million. This clause was designed to protect Barcelona from losing one of their key players, and Suarez has since gone on to become one of the most successful strikers in the club’s history.
- Erling Haaland: When Erling Haaland signed for Borussia Dortmund in 2020, his contract included a release clause of €75 million. This clause was set to expire in 2022, and Haaland eventually signed with Manchester City where he found great success. As of 2024, Haaland has a release clause that is worth €200 million and decrease each year (source).
I think release clauses are an important aspect of soccer contracts that provide benefits to both players and clubs.
Release clauses vary greatly in terms of their value and structure.
Some may be fixed amounts, while others may be based on a percentage of the transfer fee. Additionally, release clauses may only be activated during certain periods of the year, such as the summer transfer window.
As a player, you want to ensure that the release clause is set at a fair value and that it provides you with the flexibility to pursue other opportunities if desired.
As a club, you want to ensure that the release clause is set at a reasonable value and that it provides you with adequate protection against losing valuable players.
It’s a win/win with upside protection for both the player and the soccer club!
Frequently Asked Questions
A release clause is a clause in a player’s contract that allows them to leave their current team if another club pays a specific amount of money.
Football players have release clauses in their contracts as a way to protect themselves and their clubs from unwanted transfer bids.
In general, release clauses in soccer contracts are legally binding and cannot be rejected by the club or the player. Once a release clause has been included in a contract, it is a fixed term and must be honored by both parties.