Football transfers: Buy-Back Clauses explained

Monday, 24 August 2015 By Daniel Geey

Every so often, I receive an excellent question (or set of questions) from readers of the blog.  Recently, I received some really insightful queries from Jason Ives in relation to specific transfer agreement clauses. I set out his questions and provide some detail on how such clauses work in the football industry.

Can you please explain how buy-back clauses work – like the one used in Barcelona’s agreement with Aston Villa for Adama Traore?

Buy-back clauses in transfer agreements are used primarily to give a selling club the security of being able to repurchase a promising player at a set fee should the player excel in the future. Some high profile examples of such reported clauses include, Álvaro Morata (Juve back to Madrid),1 Casemiro  (Porto back to Real Madrid),2 and Gerard Deulofeu (Everton back to Barcelona).3 In many cases, the benefit of the transfer extends to the:

  • selling club as they receive a transfer fee for a player that at present probably isn’t getting regular playing time with the possibility of requiring the player if he plays well at a predefined fee;
  • buying club who can purchase a player that they otherwise may not have been able to acquire had it not been for the clause. In addition, the buyback figure is usually significantly higher than the original transfer fee; and
  • player (who can play regular first team football, probably receive a pay rise and demonstrate their talent).

The buy-back provision is usually based on a number of individual or cumulative triggers including activating the clause:

  • In defined transfer windows (i.e. the selling club cannot buy back the player for a minimum of two seasons);
  • should the original selling club bid a set amount (which could vary depending on the season that the buy-back clause is triggered i.e. €2m in the 15-16 windows and €2.5m in the 16-17 windows).

Should a buy-back provision be triggered, there is usually a contractual obligation to enforce the contract and transfer the player accordingly.

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About the Author

Daniel Geey

Daniel Geey

Daniel is a Partner in the Sport Group.

Daniel’s practice focuses on helping clients in the sports sector, including rights holders, leagues, governing bodies, clubs, agencies, athletes, sports technology companies, broadcasters and financial institutions.

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