Often times during the transfer window, the term "release clause" is thrown around. What does this mean? For example, say a player has a 40 million euro release clause, and a team bids 40,000,001 for him. What have they accomplished by doing so.

What would the release clause impact if the team instead bid 39,999,999?


2 Answers 2


The release clause (RC) fee is the minimum amount of money that a club has to accept for a particular player. So to answer your question, if Player A has a RC fee of €40M, bidding €39,9M could be rejected if the club doesn't want to sell the player, but they cannot reject €40M, and thus have to give permission for the bidding team to offer a contract to the player in question. A recent example of this is transfer of German talent Mario Götze from B. Dortmund to Bayern FC for €37M. The really interesting bit of it all was the timing of announcement of this transfer as well as the clash between these two rival teams in the Champions League final 2013 on which the Götze did not play due to a hamstring injury.

The main motivation behind having release fee for a player is to give the player some flexibility in case the player is interested in joining another club but the his club is not willing to sell. Having a release clause fee avoids some sort of modern "slavery" and gives players a way out of a unfavourable situation.

From another point of view, it's also a way for the clubs to show roughly how much they value a player. So imagine Lionel Messi and Barcelona; the release fee is around £215M. That's of course an absurd amount of money for a single player, but what that essentially means is that Barcelona FC values Lionel Messi A LOT, he's practically invaluable.

Obviously minimum release fee has some benefits for the player, and to an extent to the club to protect their rights with investment on a player. However more often than not, a club would not be willing to have a minimum release clause on a contract, since not every player is as loyal as Messi, i.e. a player might get frustrated if a club had the minimum release fee to an absurd amount. Some leagues, e.g. La Liga, mandate for all player contracts to have a minimum release fee clause. In other leagues it happens to varying degree.

  • awesome posdef! thanks for answering the question completely. I understand this concept perfectly now thanks to you :-)
    – Nick
    Aug 17, 2013 at 13:20
  • @NicholasV. glad to help :)
    – posdef
    Aug 17, 2013 at 13:31
  • "Lionel Messi, release fee around £215M, absurd amount of money" Hahaha (laughs in 2019)
    – Bebs
    Sep 20, 2019 at 12:45
  • 1
    @Bebs yeah, that speaks volumes to how the market has evolved, isnt it? :D
    – posdef
    Sep 22, 2019 at 15:39

The buyout clause system in Spain is different as well. I don't think that the club even gets involved in the process if a bid matches the release clause. When Man Utd were bidding for Herrera in the summer they had to deposit the money with Herrera, in principle, it is the player, not the buying club, who is supposed to deposit the money with the Spanish football authorities. The Martinez transfer to Bayern Munich apparently took over a month as the buyout clause is so complex due to tax etc. I think that's how the whole embarrassment with the lawyers came about, they didn't realise how complex it would be and tried to save face by denying their involvement.

  • I think in the case of Ander Herrera, it's partly due to Bilbao's own transfer policy, where they say they do not "sell" their good players, unless they choose to leave the club on their own. While I have no references to show for that, my spanish (or spanish speaking) friends all have made such claims about the club.
    – posdef
    May 15, 2015 at 9:33
  • Bilbao only employ Basque players so do not need money to raise transfer funds as there are only a few players they could buy. They only sell when they need cash for stadium improvements or if the player makes it clear they want to leave.
    – Alex Logan
    Aug 19, 2016 at 9:03

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