Why don't the soccer players sign one-year contracts?

alt Aug, 2 2023

Understanding the Dynamics of Soccer Contracts

Now, drop the cookie, and hear me out. I know that a lot of us seasoned footballers (yes, I refer to my time as a 13-year-old striker where I scored a controversial offside goal in our local Sydney school league as 'seasoned') would question the very notion of one-year contracts. Gosh, I did, too! But the first stop in any meaningful discussion is understanding what we're talking about, isn’t it?

Soccer contracts, for the unversed, often span between three to five years. Think about it. Your son or daughter signs up for middle school and by the time they graduate high school, Ronaldo or Messi might still be sporting the same jersey, assuming no transfers. The reason? Long-term contracts.

The Financial Side of Soccer Contracts

I gotta tell you, before I had my morning shot of coffee and Oscar (my barking barista) reminded me to feed him, I was always baffled by the financial side of soccer. I mean, how does all the magic happen behind those long-term contracts and those staggering numbers that we see on television?

But you know what, just like mastering the art of juggling the soccer ball without disturbing a sleeping Oscar took time, figuring out the financial dynamics of these contracts took a considerable amount of time and certainly more than one cup of coffee. It turns out that most contracts are designed to protect the clubs more than the players. The longer the contract, the higher control the club exerts over the player's future. Shocking, right? I know. It certainly blew my mind like Julius's first school science project - The cola and Mentos experiment!

Why One-Year Contracts Are Rare

Ever wondered, while sipping your morning brew with Oscar by your side, why soccer players just don’t sign one-year contracts? Grappling the idea of short-term contracts seemed as perplexing as Julius questioning why we drive on a parkway and park in a driveway.

Well, turns out both have logical answers. For our parking related question, it’s all historical and semantic reasons. And as for soccer - because a longer contract provides stability and security. Warming the bench for a year creates instability and a sense of insecurity for both the player and the club. No one wants that, right? Not us, not the players, not even Oscar!

The Upside of Longer Contracts

Now, let's pay a quick attention to why the longer contracts appeal to the majority. Remember right at the beginning when I mentioned the thrilling goal I scored as a kid? Well, it was that one lucky goal that kept me in the team for the next season. I liked the certainty of playing another season. The players today, aren’t any different.

Longer contracts secure financial stability, regular play time and opportunity to develop a relationship with the team and fans. I mean, who wouldn’t want to feel loved and cheered for years, right?

Playing the Transfer Card

Now coming to the elephant - or shall I say Oscar - in the room. Transfers. A player can only switch sides during an open transfer window. Short contracts could mean waiting for the contract to end or dealing with transfer policies. Clubs often gain transfer fees on long contracts, which balances out their books.

So, to put it bluntly, why would a club not prefer longer contracts when they are akin to a golden goose laying a steady stream of golden eggs?

The Role of Player Leverage

Now we come to the plot twist - player leverage. Bigger stars have the capacity to influence terms of their contract. Take Zlatan Ibrahimovic for example. He has notoriously signed a few short term contracts, purely based on his command over the market.

Unfortunately, the Zlatans among us are few and far between. Most players don't have this luxury and have to roll with what they're given - a little like when Julius chooses the toppings on our pizza nights!

In Conclusion: The Soccer Contract Conundrum

So, as I watch Julius practicing his penalty shots and Oscar attempting to be a shaky goalkeeper, I realize that the world of soccer contracts continues to be an intriguing game of Chess between clubs and players. One-year contracts might seem appealing for players, but the security, stability and a significant financial impact these extended contracts provide, it’s hard to see the scales tipping towards short term agreements.

But hey, who knows? As the game evolves, so might contracts. For now, I’m just content seeing Julius attempting a shot at a worried-looking Oscar. If only Julius would sign a one-year contract to not use Oscar as the goalie, eh?