Football’s Weirdest Transfer Fees

Bradford City this week took advantage of an unusual clause in Blackpool’s Colin Doyle’s contract to sign the Irish goalkeeper for the princely sum of £1.

We take a look at some other strange transfer fees over the years. We’ve also included a fake one, can you spot it?

Kenneth Kristensen – his weight in fresh shrimp

Thailand Daily Life

Some players, like Lionel Messi, are worth their weight in gold. Others, like Norwegian Kenneth Kristensen, are worth their weight in fresh shrimp. The forward moved from Third Division Vindbjart to Floey in 2002 and the prawn sandwich brigade were out in force to witness the completion of his transfer – a boxing bout-style weigh-in of Kristensen and the oblivious seafood.

The move wasn’t entirely successful with the shrimp more accustomed to finding the back of the net than the erstwhile striker. To make matters worse, and in a damning indictment of the standard of Norwegian tabloid headline writers, he was never even dubbed Kenneth Crustacean.

Jimmy Greaves – £99,999

Soccer - Football League Division One - Tottenham Hotspur

Those who grew up in the 1980s recall Jimmy Greaves as a grumpy pundit with a perverse disdain for Scottish goalkeepers. Those who grew up 30 years earlier remember one of the most lethal strikers of his generation. After an incredible 124 goals in 157 games at Chelsea, the England forward earned a lucrative move to AC Milan.

However, he hated the lack of freedom – on and off the pitch – in Italy, and was soon linked with a move back to England. Spurs secured his signature for the unusual fee of £99,999, set to allay the pressure of becoming the first £100,000 footballer.

Ian Wright – a set of weights

Soccer - FA Cup Final - Crystal Palace v Manchester United

Ian Wright enjoyed a highly successful club career in the 1990s, moving between eight clubs for combined transfer fees of just £3 million. Oh, and a set of weights. Wright was a late-starter in footballing terms and was plying his trade with non-league Greenwich Borough, and as a plasterer, when Steve Coppell spotted his potential.

He was duly snapped up by Crystal Palace for a set of weights before being sold on to Arsenal six years later for £2.5 million. To make matters worse, and in a damning indictment of the standard of English tabloid headline writers, he was never even dubbed Ian Weight.

Zat Knight – 30 tracksuits

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Fulham v Middlesbrough - Craven Cottage

If you Google the term Rushall Olympic, the search engine will suggest “did you mean Brazil rush all Olympic stadiums in time for 2016?”. However, Rushall Olympic are also a non-league English club whose alumni include former England defender Zat Knight.

The former Bolton Wanderers centre-back moved from Rushall in 1999 to Fulham on, ostensibly, a free transfer. However, Fulham chairman Mohamed Al-Fayed took pity on the lowly club and sent them 30 tracksuits as a gesture of goodwill. A fee some Fulham fans subsequently felt was quite generous for the error-prone defender.

Collins John – a set of encyclopaedias and related material

Oxford English Dictionary additions

In the early 2000s Scottish midfielder John Collins was the fulcrum of Fulham’s midfield and Cottagers fans often joked they could do with eleven John Collins on the pitch. This was, obviously, impossible but they did the next best thing – signed a Dutch bloke called Collins John for £600,000.

His previous transfer had been much less auspicious. As a 17 year-old he left DES Nijverdal for FC Twente for the pricely sum of a set of encyclopedias and related material for the local secondary school in Nijverdal. To make matters worse, and in a damning indictment of the standard of Dutch tabloid headline writers, he was never even dubbed Collins Dictionaries.

Marius Cioara – 15kg of pork sausages

Serbia Sausage Festival

In 2006 Romanian defender Marius Cioara left UT Arad for a new start at Regal Hornia. However, a day later, on hearing the derisory terms of his transfer he promptly retired.

Hornia were furious and demanded his transfer fee back – 15kg of pork sausages. A clear example of one of the wurst transfers on record.

Ion Radu – two tons of meat

Argentina Meat

Cioara’s compatriot Ion Radu was subject of an even meatier transfer a few years earlier. This time there was no beef between the clubs, Jiul Petrosani and Valcea, apart from the fee.

Valcea originally refused to give in to Petrosani’s demands, feeling the steaks were too high, but they eventually agreed on two tonnes of beef and pork to secure Radu’s signature.

Tony Cascarino – a piece of zinc metal/training kit

Soccer - FA Cup 3rd Round - Millwall v Luton - The Den

Sometimes there are discrepancies in the official transfer fee reported and some even remain undisclosed. Tony Cascarino’s first move falls into the former category. The Irish striker started his career at non-league Crockenhill but after only a few months was offered a trial with Gillingham.

He duly signed with no official transfer fee recorded. Cascarino maintains that it was for a set of tracksuits while other reports suggest the fee was a piece of zinc metal. Which would have been a steel.

Franco di Santo – 2 goal nets and 40 litres of paint

B&Q Store - Stock

Franco di Santo was once released by Wigan, before being promptly snapped up by Werder Bremen. However, his signature didn’t always come this cheap.

When he made his first move to Audax Italiano they had to shell out two goal nets and 40 litres of paint. A couple of years later they sold him to Chelsea, for the more unrealistic figure of £3.4 million.

Ernie Blenkinsop – £100 and and barrel of beer

Germany Oktoberfest Cooper

Some transfers really scrape the bottom of the barrel. Quite literally in the case of Ernie Blenkinsop. In the 1920s the defender represented England 26 times but his first transfer, from home-town club Cudworth to Hull City, was rather more mundane.

Cudworth were paid £100 and, in an Andy Dufresnesque gesture, a barrel of beer for Ernie’s former team-mates to enjoy in his absence. To make matters worse, and in a damning indictment of the standard of 1920s English tabloid headline writers, he was never even dubbed Ernie Beerkegslops.