The 11 Strangest Football Transfer Fees

Dan Fitch looks at some of the weirdest football transfer deals ever struck.

The January window is well and truly open and before it slams shut we can expect a number of multi-million pound transfers to go through.

Not all clubs are backed by oil barons or Russian criminals though and money is often tight. In such instances, a little creativity comes into play. Here are the 11 strangest transfer fees ever paid.

11. John Barnes - A set of playing kit

When Watford spotted the teenage John Barnes going through his ritual ninety minutes of sheer hell for non-league Sudbury Court in 1981, they swooped to sign the young winger.

The transfer fee was a set of playing kit. Of all the players bartered for a physical item, it is possible that John Barnes was the most talented. He ended up making 292 appearances for the Hornets, before being transferred to Liverpool for £900,000 and would represent England on 79 occasions.

10. Tony Cascarino - Training equipment

This is actually quite disappointing, as legend had it that the fee for Cascarino's transfer from Crokenhill to Gillingham was a number of sheets of corrugated iron.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Cascarino refutes this and insists that Gillingham actually paid the fee in the currency of "some training equipment". Spoilsport.

9. Ian Wright - Some weights

It seems that when a relatively skint Football League club wants to purchase a player from a tiny non-league outfit, they just take a look around the training ground and offload any old rubbish they have lying around.

The unwanted item that was set as the transfer fee when the future Arsenal legend Ian Wright was bought by Crystal Palace from Greenwich Borough, was a set of weights. Wright certainly lived up to the 'weight' of expectation and proved that he was worth his 'weight' in gold during his playing career, before becoming the dead 'weight' of the MOTD team.

8. Zat Knight - 30 tracksuits

Almost as impossible to believe as the fact that Zat Knight actually played for England (twice), is the fact that the Mohamed Al-Fayed owned Fulham couldn't afford to throw lowly Rushall Olympic a few quid when they bought him.

Instead they purchased Knight for a mere 30 tracksuits. Although as Al-Fayed owns Harrods, it's possible that they were really nice ones.

7. Franco di Santo - 12 footballs, two goal nets and 40 litres of paint

These are the sort of specifics that Tony Cascarino needs to provide if he expects us to believe that he wasn't transferred for some corrugated iron.

When the Wigan striker Di Santo moved from the Argentine side Tiro Suizo to the Chilean outfit Audax Italiano, a collection of training equipment and half of B & Q was sent over the border. Considering that he has yet to score for Wigan, it's highly possible that they might accept a similar transfer fee for Di Santo if anyone had any paint going spare.

6. Ernie Blenkinsop - £200 and 80 pints of ale

Now we're getting somewhere. When Hull City were looking for something extra to sweeten the deal when they purchased Ernie Blenkinsop from Cudworth in 1921, they actually put some though into what a bunch of blokes from a small South Yorkshire mining village might actually appreciate, rather than just hand over a couple of old corner flags.

Some years later, the good folk of Cudworth had reason to raise a glass when Blenkinsop proved to be a success at the league champions Sheffield Wednesday and won 26 caps for England.

5. Kenneth Kristensen- His own weight in shrimp

There's not a huge amount of money knocking around in the lower echelons of Norwegian football, which is why the third tier outfit Floey had to look for something slightly different to offer, when they purchased the striker Kenneth Kristensen from their divisional rivals Vindbjart.

They came up with the novel idea of offering Kristensen's weight in fresh shrimp. What the football minnows of Norway may lack in money seems to be compensated for in their sense of theatre, as they set up a boxing-style weigh in to determine Kristensen's 75kg bulk. It's a good job that no one ever thought of offering a similar deal for the transfer of Jan Molby.

4. Hugh McLenahan - A freezer full of ice-cream

Manchester United took full advantage of Stockport County's financial problems when they signed Hugh McLenahan from them in 1927. Having heard that Stockport were holding a bazaar to raise funds for the club, the United assistant manager Louis Rocca came up with a cold hearted offer that he knew Stockport couldn't refuse.

Rocca's family ran an ice cream business in the Newton Heath district of Manchester and offered a freezer full of soft scoop in exchange for McLenahan. Stockport tried to hold out for some cornets and a box of Flakes, but Manchester United were playing hardball.

3. Christian Belgradean - A gas pipeline

When a chairman is asked what they want for a player by the representatives of an interested club, too often they limit their answer to a monetary figure.

Romanians refuse to be shackled to such tradition. When first division Jiul began sniffing around his goalkeeper Cristian Belgradean, the Minerul chairman Cornel Rasmerita, requested a gas pipe for the town of Lupeni, where he was the mayor. Politicians selling footballers to pay for essential services? Let's hope that David Cameron never reads this article.

2. Ion Radu - Two tons of meat

We stay in Romania for more wacky transfer action. Footballers are always complaining of being treated like lumps of meat, but spare a thought for the Jiul Petrosani midfielder Ion Radu, who was considered dispensable when the club were offered a weight of dead animal flesh.

In 1998, Valcea rooted around in the lower regions of their chest freezer and offered two tons of beef and pork for Radu. The Jiul Petrosani president explained that the meat would be sold to pay the players' salaries, though we wouldn't be surprised if it turned out that he'd hosted a barbeque shortly after the deal.

1. Marius Cioara - 15kg of sausages

Not all Romanian footballers are willing to be involved in meat-based transfer deals. The UT Arad defender Marius Cioara was outraged when the club accepted a bid of 15kg of sausages from Regal Hornia in 2006, which isn't surprising when eight years previously a player was transferred for two tons of prime meat that wasn't padded out with any sawdust or testicles.

So incensed was Cioara, that he retired from football a day after the deal was struck, to work on a farm in Spain (presumably not one that specialised in the produce of chorizo sausages). Regal Hornia were not pleased, with a club official commenting: "We are upset because we lost twice -- firstly because we lost a good player and secondly because we lost our team's food for a whole week."

Who says that footballers are fed a much healthier diet on the continent?

Published: 6 Jan 2011

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