Shanghai - A struggling Chinese football club will dish out more than $1.5m (R18 844 191) in cash per game to inspire its demoralised players to victory - but they'll be docked money if they lose.
The carrot-and-stick approach is being applied at Guizhou Hengfeng, who are bottom of the Chinese Super League (CSL) after losing eight of their first nine games, including five on the bounce.
Club boss Wen Wei treated the team and staff to a lavish dinner on Tuesday, two days after they were thrashed 5-1 at Tianjin Teda, and proposed an eye-watering victory bonus of 10 million yuan (R18 844 191) for each of the next two games in a desperate effort to stop the rot, local media said.
In the event of a long-awaited win, the cash will be waiting in the dressing room after the games, the Guizhou Metropolitan Daily cited Wen as saying.
The team will earn two million yuan for a draw, but be fined a collective one million if they lose, or about 33 000 yuan (R65 112) apiece.
Guizhou's 30 players as well as staff at the dinner accepted Wen's proposal, the newspaper said, but they face a tough test at home to CSL leaders Shanghai SIPG on Saturday followed by a trip to fellow strugglers Dalian Yifang the following weekend.
Property magnate Wen said he was trying to "unite the team" coached by Spaniard Gregorio Manzano.
"I want my team to forget all the losses and think about hard-won victories," Wen told the newspaper.
Club officials could not be reached for comment.
Chinese football has in recent years made headlines with a series of expensive big-name foreign signings, with SIPG shelling out an Asian-record 60 million euros last year to buy Brazilian attacking midfielder Oscar from Chelsea.
Argentine forward Carlos Tevez earned some of the highest wages in world football during an ill-fated 12-month spell at Shanghai Shenhua, before returning to Boca Juniors earlier this year.