Du Malone writes: This is the sixth of a series of posts on the theme of contracts, negotiation, and agents on FM.

You decide to give your defender a hefty clean-sheet bonus. That should help: the more clean sheets we keep, the more points we’re likely to accumulate. What could possibly go wrong?

And you give your attacking mid, who has a history of scoring goals, a goal bonus. That should help: we can’t rely only on our strikers to score. Again, what could possibly go wrong?

In the first case, what could wrong is that you’re incentivising your defender to stay back. That might be a good thing: perhaps that’s precisely what you want.

But if, say, he’s a full back who you’re wanting to push forward (or overlap, even), then there’s a problem. The bonus will disincentivise him from doing so.

In the second case, you might find the player takes to shooting too often (perhaps even over-riding instructions to the contrary), thus wasting possession and spoiling promising build-up play.

I’m not suggesting that managers shouldn’t use such bonuses. Far from it (in fact, I make liberal use of both). My point is, rather, that items in the contract can have unintended consequences. And these might run counter to your wishes.

In terms of unintended consequences, contracts can be a minefield. I find that the only real antidote is to think about each of the terms and conditions that you’re offering and ask two questions: not only “Will this help to bring about the consequence I’m after?”, but also, “What other consequences might this make more likely?”

Previous post in the series: Two ways to read a contract

Next up: Unintended consequences

Image credit: This image has generously been made available, under a CC BY 2.0 licence, by CreditScoreGeek.

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