Liverpool Football Club could consider the use of a range of tough contractual clauses in the potential deal to buy Mario Balotelli – including the ability to claw back the signing fee should the player misbehave in the future.
According to leading employment lawyer Glenn Hayes at national firm Irwin Mitchell, the club can protect itself to minimise the risk of any future misconduct should the £16m deal complete.
Contractual clauses that Liverpool could also consider include reduced notice periods if certain defined disciplinary offences take place and / or offering the player a shorter initial contract with the potential for subsequent extensions, should certain conduct, behavioural or performance conditions be met.
Liverpool could also pay close attention to any contractual clauses governing their required expectations of the player, especially in relation to training. Considering incremental pay increases based on behavioural related conditions is another such option, though seems less likely in practice given that Balotelli is reported to be negotiating a weekly salary upwards of £150,000.
Glenn Hayes, an employment law partner at national law firm, Irwin Mitchell, said: “Balotelli is clearly a world-class player and if Liverpool completes the deal they will of course be hoping that the player performs well on and off the pitch. His past record does suggest that there is potential for future misbehaviour and Liverpool will, I expect, be ensuring that they protect themselves.
“There are a number of non-standard options that the club has and I would not be surprised if they were written into his contract. The key will be for Liverpool to define the parameters for what will constitute bad behaviour. This is particularly important in an industry which seemingly often makes its own rules, and where general employment law principles are often overlooked”.
Balotelli left Manchester City in 2013 for AC Milan in a deal worth around £19m and since he joined, has scored 30 goals in 54 games.
During his career at Manchester City he helped the club win its first league title since 1968 but he was involved in a number of on and off the pitch incidents. These include a training ground brawl with the then club manager Roberto Mancini and setting off fireworks from a bathroom window at his home.
Glenn Hayes added: “All businesses should protect themselves in relation to staff discipline. Whether this be in relation to what they say on social media, what they wear and how they speak to customers or clients”.
“In the case of Liverpool, they are very aware of their reputation, particularly since the most recent episodes involving Luis Suarez, and they will want to make sure their contract is watertight and doesn’t expose them to any future loss should the player have disciplinary issues.”