Earlier this week, Shohei Ohtani signed the most lucrative contract in American sports. Dodgers’ ownership isn’t new to employing new tactics to attract players. In fact, co-owner Todd Boehly forced the Prem into action with the way Chelsea have been offering contracts.


Ohtani’s signing is heavily backloaded, meaning he will earn very little in the first ten years compared to what he will earn at the end. This structure allows for the Dodgers to fill out their team with stars without hitting the luxury tax.

For Chelsea fans, this contract structuring rang a bell. Since the Boehly takeover, management offered players longer term contracts at a higher rate in the beginning. Allowing the team to keep young talented players on cheaper contracts while also following financial fair play guidelines.

Photo: Getty

Last week, Chelsea followed with the rest of the Prem in banning this contract structure from here on out. Chelsea players will still see their contracts go unchanged, but they may soon present new issues for players. Contracts like these provide a secure financial future, but give a lot of leverage to ownership.

As the Boehly project continues to spin its wheels, it’ll be interesting to see when players begin to consider their futures. However, it may be tougher than any of these players realize to escape Chelsea.


Boehly brought the American sports style of contract to football. Long term deals with the team having the majority of control over the deal.

Typically, football contracts have hovered around four years with incentives to replace yearly raises. They’re often extended as well to accommodate for raises, due to the smaller length. Additionally, contracts may have release contracts to ensure a way out for the  player or ward off competition from rivals.

As any football fan knows, extensions can be just as important as transfers themselves. Due to the nature of smaller contracts, players and clubs engage in talks constantly. Players can leverage their performances and contract length while teams can counter with clauses.

To be fair, this is a relatively well balanced system that helps players get what they’re worth. It also feeds the constant transfer speculation that has a hegemony over the coverage of the sport.

Photo: Business Insider

American sports don’t have the issues that football has in this manner. Since players only move via trades or free agency, the length and value of a contract play a larger role. Trades can only happen when there is space in a payroll, meaning the deal itself matters a lot more.

Football avoids this, as transfers don’t require the receiving team to pay the rest of a player’s contract. It works for all parties where the new club gets to create a new contact for the player, while the previous club 

To ensure his vision of success at Chelsea, Boehly decided to bring American methods to football. These contracts aim to keep players under contract during their prime while warding off rival clubs.


If Chelsea continues to disappoint, the project will unravel and players will start to demand out. Another season without European football may drive a demand for an exodus.

Using Enzo Fernandez as a study case can help illustrate the potential issues with signing these long term contracts. From an inability to find a way out to a struggle to demand a raise, it’s easier to see these contracts as “predatory”.

When a player demands out of this situation, the consequences of the new contracts will hit. Long term contracts kill the ability for a player to push for a move. It traps a player and gives the club complete control of what moves can happen. 

Over the next seven seasons, Fernandez will earn over 10 million euros per season. In the following , Aurélien Tchouaméni earns 12 million euros over the next four seasons. At the end of both of their respective contracts, they will have earned roughly the same amount. 

Photo: Yahoo News

Tchouaméni earns a little more while having the flexibility to use his leverage to move. Additionally, it’s easier to envision Tchouaméni earning an extension that doubles his contract in the coming years, given the contract is set to expire sooner. A shorter contract nets the same worth with the added benefits of a  larger extension or the leverage to force a move.

Even if Fernandez was playing to a high level, there’s no path for him to force a raise, he has to beg with no guarantees. The length allows the club to delay any extension and use the contract as an excuse. Additionally, the club has all the leverage in any transfer negotiations, as they can try to push the player to see out their contract,

Players deserve to be paid their worth and while these contracts guarantee money for a longer period, they hinder a player’s ability to be compensated correctly. A shorter contract may bring more uncertainty for fans, but it’s more fair for the players.

While the footballing world may no longer have to deal with these mega contracts dished out by Chelsea, the players will have to deal with them. Yes they’re making more money than most could ever dream of seeing, but we all deserve to be compensated for our worth. As the Chelsea project continues to collapse, more players on this roster will have to come face to face with their lack of agency.

 

Featured image: Getty

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