What is this trend of long-term contracts?  / England / Chelsea / SOFOOT.com

Like Chelsea and its long-term contracts offered this winter to Benoît Badiashile (7 and a half years old) and Mykhaylo Mudryk (8 and a half years old), more and more clubs are signing their players on very long-term contracts term. A way to circumvent financial fair play, but which can turn against the clubs if the player ultimately no longer has the expected level.

What state will the world be in on June 30, 2031? Will France have two new stars on its shirt? Will Michel Drucker still present Can’t wait for Sunday ? Will Cyril Hanouna have won the 2027 presidential elections? Will Rihanna finally release a new album? Will Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès have been found? So many unanswered questions since June 30, 2031 seems like an eternity. And yet, this is the date on which Mykhaylo Mudryk’s contract with Chelsea will end. Last recruit of the London club, the Ukrainian winger has, in fact, signed an eight and a half year contract with the Blues. A common practice for Chelsea who had signed Monegasque Benoît Badiashile a seven and a half year contract a few days earlier or seven-year contracts for Wesley Fofana and six-year contracts for Marc Cucurella, Carney Chukwuemeka, Reece James and Trevoh Chalobah these last months. In one year, the Blues have therefore built a team for the next six years. Except that this strategy is not necessarily a guarantee of success.

The longer it is, the more stupid it is?

Since 2001 and the implementation of the Monti system, FIFA stipulates that “the contract of a professional player is established for a minimum period from the date of its entry into force until the end of the season and for a maximum of five years” . A priori, Chelsea would therefore circumvent the rules, except that this same FIFA then adds that “contracts of a different duration are only permitted if they comply with the national law in force” . Result, if in France it is not possible – for the moment – to sign such long contracts, this is not the case for England therefore, but also for Spain, where Aurélien Tchouaméni has signed a contract of six years with Real Madrid and where Iñaki Williams and Saúl Ñíguez respectively extended their nine-year contracts with Bilbao and Atlético de Madrid.

For clubs, this possibility of granting very long-term contracts is above all an advantage from an accounting point of view, as Vincent Chaudel, economist and founder of the Sport Business Observatory, points out: “You have to distinguish cash – the check you write – and accounting with the amortization mechanism. When Neymar is bought 222 million euros, it is the check, but after there is the amortization over five years pushed back to 10 with the extension. » Enough to allow Chelsea to go under the radar of financial fair play: “It’s a writing game that allows you to ‘stretch the rubber band’ on an accounting exercise. By playing over long periods, it reduces the impact on the current accounting year. » Problem for these clubs, if the player in question does not adapt to a new environment, is seriously injured or loses his footballing level, the latter find themselves with a difficult weight to clear. This is particularly the case of Atlético with Saúl Ñíguez who no longer has anything to do with the Saúl Ñíguez of 2018-2019 and who is no longer part of the plans of the Colchoneros. Except that he still has three and a half years left on his contract.

NFL contracts

For the players too, this contract does not ultimately only have advantages, even if it offers them a guarantee and protection in the event of a glitch. In particular concerning salary renegotiation, players can no longer use the argument of contract extension as Marco Verratti does every year since his arrival in the capital. “When you are a top player, it is in your interest to have short contracts to renegotiate, while the clubs have an interest in giving you long contractstheorizes Vincent Chaudel. Whereas with the smaller players, it’s the opposite. » Chelsea’s new boss, Todd Boehly is also co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. A baseball franchise which, in 2020, signed its outfielder Mookie Betts to a 12-year contract. Crazy numbers that are clearly widespread in the NFL where quarterback Patrick Mahomes notably signed a 10-year contract with the Kansas City Chiefs. Football is not there yet, but this practice demonstrates an Americanization which was already visible since the Covid with the multiplication of free transfers, as Vincent Chaudel evokes: “In American sports, players are either out of contract or traded, so franchises are putting a lot of money into salaries and not transfers. Since the Covid, football has slipped more and more into this pattern with players who went to the end of their contract and signed free in their new club. » A practice which is not contradictory with the emergence of very long-term contracts. Mykhaylo Mudryk’s agents can therefore already test the waters for the free agency of 2031.

By Steven Oliveira

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