Controversial owner Vincent Tan was recently forced to withdraw his offer of a £3.7 million bonus to the squad of Cardiff City. The squad were to be awarded this sizable bonus if Cardiff avoided relegation. However, it contravened Premier League rules so had to be hastily withdrawn. It is alleged that Tan offered it to the players the night before their game with Tottenham (Cardiff lost 1-0).

Evidently, Tan’s latest master plan failed to turn around Cardiff’s immediate fortunes. It turns out that not even £3.7m’s worth of carrot can stop the Soldado goal machine. Joking aside, was this really a wise move from Mr Tan? Do bonuses of this kind even work after all? It certainly wouldn’t be the first questionable decision he’s made.

Some of the best managers to have graced the Premier League have been excellent motivators. Considering this, does it not undermine the motivational abilities of a manager that such a large bonus is being offered? If anything, it shows desperation on the part of the owner and a lack of faith in the skills of the manager. In Cardiff’s case, it is rich (excuse the pun) that the man responsible for sacking Malkay Mackay on the grounds of him being profligate with club funds should turn to such a method of incentivisation. This being said, the rewards of staying in the top flight hugely dwarf what Tan was offering and I doubt the Cardiff owner has much time for irony.

This approach has been used on individual players too. In a bizarre instance, Doncaster’s Kyle Bennett was offered the club chairman’s Bentley if he managed 20 goals by the end of the season. He finished the season with 7 goals…

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Many of you, perhaps understandably, would oppose such incentives in football on the basis that footballers earn too much, etc. First of all, I flatly disagree that they do, but also, they could actually work as a means of improving team performances.

It’s a cold night in London. Sebastian Squillaci has just blocked a shot with his face and Arsenal lead by a solitary goal. It’s the 88th minute, substitute Jonathan Tehoue wriggles through the Arsenal defence and fires one between the legs of an astonished Almunia. A rotund bald man hurtles down the pitch, his arms raised to the heavens amid the pandemonium at Brisbane Road. Not only had Orient kept their place in the FA cup, they had also earned a highly lucrative replay at the Emirates. Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn had promised the team an all inclusive trip to Las Vegas should they earn a replay – no wonder Russell Slade was celebrating.

Hearn seems to believe in this approach. He has promised his team a return to the city of sin if his side gain promotion this season. For a man who once said, “I don’t particularly like football”, he doesn’t spare any expenses in achieving success in it. Leyton Orient currently inhabit the top end of the table with promotion very much on the cards.

Maybe incentivisation of this kind can work then, time will tell if Hearn will have the last laugh. For now though, I leave you with a quote, one that sums up the true essence of football and the desire to succeed within it:

Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much more important that that - Bill Shankly

 

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