Premier League player bonuses reach record high

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In an age where the Premier League is awash with money, from lucrative broadcast contracts and wealthy foreign owners, and players are paid salaries in excess of £200,000-a-week, how is it possible for clubs to incentivise their employees who already have more money than they can spend?

Gone are the days where the win bonus system was a crucial source of income for football's participants, with results as much about the money that was forfeited, as it was for the points lost. All leading clubs still pay their players and staff bonuses, which, under Football Association rules, have to be agreed upon at the start of the season.

And, even though wages have gone through the roof in the last 20 years, effectively nullifying the financial value of performance-based prizes, what's clear is that footballers still want to be rewarded for winning trophies. But, do these individuals that are paid such riches, really need any more money to perform?

After Manchester City's bonus schedule for the 2011-12 campaign was leaked by the Independent today, the template provides a fascinating insight into the incentives on offer to the club's star-studded squad of millionaires, upon which owner Sheikh Mansour has spent £452million in transfer fees alone over the past four years, in an attempt to follow up the club's FA Cup triumph in 2011 with even more silverware.

At stake last season was a total pot of £14.2million for the four key competitions in which City were competing; £5.2m plus an extra £1m for winning the Premier League title, £5.25m plus an extra £2m for the Champions League, £500,000 for landing the FA Cup, and £250,000 for the Carling Cup.

The Europa League - which City entered after their elimination from the Champions League group stage - isn't included in the initial sum, but worth an additional £828,000. It's a relatively modest total when you consider that figure would have been usurped by the £1million on offer just for reaching the quarter-finals of Europe's premier club competition, in addition to the £5,000 per player, per point in the group stage.

The hierarchy of the financial value of the other domestic cup competitions, paltry by comparison, is also particularly telling, when it comes to both their commercial standing and prestige in today's modern game.

Reward for City's maiden Premier League crown was very generous indeed. Broken down on a pro-rata basis, the £6.2m pool was worth £11,742 per player, per appearance, with each member of Roberto Mancini's 24-man squad paid an average of £258,333 for their individual contribution to the club's first top-flight league championship since 1968.

Joe Hart - the only ever-present - collected £446,212, while Yaya Toure earned £375,744 for his 32 appearances in the league. It was less than two weeks' wages for the £250,000-a-week player, but still not a bad end of season bonus.

By comparison, for a relatively peripheral player such as Stefan Savic - who made only 11 league appearances - the domestic achievement was worth £129,162, whereas Carlos Tevez picked up £152,646, despite missing five months of the season on strike.

Meanwhile, Chelsea's Champions League final triumph against Bayern Munich in May proved to be even more profitable, after Roman Abramovich reportedly set aside a £10million pot to pay the Blues' first-team squad.

Europe's most coveted crown had always been the Russian billionaire's key target since taking control of the Stamford Bridge club in 2003, and the successful delivery of the trophy earned each player up to £350,000 in bonuses.


Roberto Di Matteo - who was only interim boss at the time - and still hadn't agreed on an increase to his salary since replacing Andre Villas-Boas at the helm, was paid a £500,000 gratuity for helping to turn the club around, before his efforts later won him the full-time managerial post.

The previous season, Manchester United's stars could have shared a bumper £9million if they secured a Premier League and Champions League double in 2010-11. But, after successfully claiming the domestic crown, they were beaten by Barcelona in the European final.

Still, for each league game every member of Sir Alex Ferguson's 18-man squad picked up £1,500 per point won, or £4,500 per victory. And so, with an accumulative tally of 80 points, and individual bonus total of £120,000, United faced an overall pay-out close to £2.2million. The club then added around £1.5million to be shared between the squad based on games played.

In the Champions League, players were awarded £15,000 for their part in a group stage win and £20,000 in the knockout rounds. That figure would have topped £2.5million if United had gone on to win at Wembley, with the club throwing in a further pot of £3million for lifting the trophy, again shared based on the number of matches played.

While incentive schemes will understandably vary from club to club, the common trend is that year-on-year the templates become increasingly lucrative. And, with the Premier League just one year away from a huge new television deal, which stands to earn participating clubs in excess of £3billion over three years, the value of those bonuses is not likely to come down anytime soon.

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