a free beer for every fan

Contract negotiations can generally turn out to be a lengthy and arduous course of, however not for Bram van Polen, captain of Dutch membership PEC Zwolle.

The 37-year-old defender has attained real legendary standing with the Blauwvingers (“Bluefingers”) having spent his complete senior profession there, even main them to glory within the 2014 Dutch Cup with a shock victory over Ajax within the ultimate. Van Polen signed his first skilled contract at PEC in 2007, and this week he signed an extension committing him to the membership till the top of subsequent season.

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But Van Polen’s contract signings usually are not like these of different gamers; he has earned a repute for the bizarre clauses and circumstances he throws into negotiations to make issues fascinating and to maintain the membership on their toes.

Over the previous three years he has stipulated in numerous offers that the membership should present his household with a trip, a connoisseur meal at a restaurant and even provide him with a automobile. However, on nearer inspection, you’ll be able to see why these “demands” make him such a fan favorite: the holiday was at a Dutch campsite and vacation park, the meal was at a native resort and the automobile was a second-hand Peugeot with 55,000 miles on the clock for his spouse.

When requested why he insists on these clauses in his contract, Van Polen informed ESPN: “I like it. I enjoy forcing the club to be a bit creative. For example, I arranged a restaurant dinner for my family, a weekend trip somewhere. Often there is a lot that can be arranged with sponsors. So, I hand in part of the money with which they then have to be creative. So, there’s something in it for the club and for me. I don’t know, I like to do something like that every time.”

Now, after agreeing to increase his PEC profession into a seventeenth 12 months, the phrases of his newest deal imply that the membership should buy a celebratory beer (or equal non-alcoholic beverage) for every single season-ticket holder, volunteer and sponsor of the membership. As such, every fan who attends the subsequent PEC dwelling match in opposition to Telstar on Friday, April 14 can get a beer on the home to toast their longest-serving participant.

“I’ve had this in mind for a few years now,” Van Polen mentioned. “I’m assuming that this year will be my last year as a professional football player and … I wanted to give something back to the supporters.

“It is not to win favour in any respect. I do know some individuals will consider me as a kiss-ass, I fully perceive that. But I do not assume I nonetheless should win individuals over in Zwolle. So, I sincerely noticed it as a ‘thanks.’ And I believed a spherical on the home suited me.”

If he remains a regular in the team, Van Polen will likely make his 500th appearance for the club next season. With any luck, that will be with them back in the Eredivisie, and they are among the top teams vying for promotion back to the top flight after being relegated to the Keuken Kampioen Divisie last term.

As part of the contract announcement, Van Polen handwrote a letter to all the fans, which also revealed the special coin with which to claim their drink.

The letter reads:

Dear supporters,

To get straight to the point, I’m going to continue as a footballer at our wonderful club for another year. PEC and I have signed an agreement for the upcoming season. Now probably not everyone will be cheering for this. There will be people who say, it’s been nice, that old man has to stop. I can live with that, but I feel fit and I’m looking forward to another year.

As you may know, I try to put something special in my contract every year. Partly because I like to challenge the club in a creative way (which they are very strong in, by the way) and partly because I genuinely like it myself. Now that I assume that I will start my last year as a football player after the summer and given that I have been playing here in Zwolle all my life, I would like to give something back to you.

So now is the right time to have something put in my contract with which I can thank you all. Thank you for the unconditional support I have always felt. In good times, but certainly also in bad times. For me it is very simple, if you had not had so much love for the club, I would not have played for PEC Zwolle for so long. Van Polen, suck-up, I hear some people think. That’s fine, but that’s how I’ve experienced it all these years and I think it’s great to express it to you in this way.

So what’s the idea? I’m going to give a beer to the whole stadium. Certainly not to celebrate that I will continue as a footballer for another year, but to thank you for the unconditional support. However, giving a beer to thousands of season ticket holders is a challenge. How are we going to approach that? In this letter you will find a special coin with which you can get a drink in the circulation of the entire stadium at the next home game. Enjoy the drink and hopefully (I’ll knock it off) we can toast again at the end of this season.

Thank you again for your years of support that I have always experienced.

The most beautiful club of all.


Unsurprisingly, this went down very well with the PEC match-going faithful, not that the club captain knew anything about it.

“To be trustworthy I did not actually hear about all of the reactions,” he said. “I haven’t got social media. But I do know by way of the membership that the individuals have been filled with reward.

“The credit for that goes to the marketing team, though. They came with the idea of the free round of drinks and the letter. I just thought of a voucher so people could get their drinks, but they were like ‘if we do it, we do it well.'”

“This had been going on for a while. I had this in mind for longer. I was already considering how to do it and what would be the best moment. I thought this was a good moment to include it in the negotiations. The negotiation itself took like 10 seconds. It was like: ‘Another year?’ ‘Yes, another year.’ ‘Same conditions?’ ‘Yep, same conditions.’

“I’ve negotiated a few good issues the final couple of years. I would not name myself a grasp negotiator, however I’m doing fairly properly.”

We’ll drink to that. Proost!

ESPN Netherlands’ Cas Goertzen and Sander van Hal contributed to this report

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