#FM17 : Keeping the Titanic afloat : Controlling your Finances

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For the past week I have come across the same question in multiple Football Manager related Facebook groups and the question roughly goes like this: “Help me, I don’t pass the FPP with my team. What should I do?”  While telling people to sell they high earners in the comment section, I still felt that maybe this is something that dignifies a a bit more sturdier perhaps even beefier answer. So this is my take on handling your finances in Football Manager in a way you don’t end up wearing a barrel in the street corner while tap dancing to passing strangers. I’ll drop a shy disclaimer however since this is by no means a word from Football Manager expert,  just a bloke who manages to get it work this way.

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The Chastity Belt

Financial Fair Play or FFP was put in place by UEFA’s Michel Platini to have even some sort of effect on the sky rocketing amounts of money that clubs across the europe were spending on player transfers and wages or as it was said “To protect club executives from themselves”. There was a clear and present danger for even the top clubs in europe to dip themselves over the edge and plummet to the oblivion just with mere spending to chase that one more championship. Eventually FFP came out with sanctions  scaled to match the severity of spending respectively and started slapping clubs to their wrists with in ever fastening pace.

As we all know Football Manager is emulating real life so there is the FFP, Brexit and probably a drop down menu somewhere to find Donald Trump as the US President. So keeping this in mind let’s have a stroll in the world of Football Manager finances according to me.

The Ground Game

We all have different antics what we do when first starting a save and usually I go for a squad view and start looking my team spending and figure out if I can justify it or does it need to be trimmed. This is usually just a quick overview just to get the feel for it. I always and forever check the finance screen at the start of each and every save. Always. This is the screen which is your life in this sub-life of ours and if not taken into account can lead you to posting  facebook groups asking for help. Which, if situation has gotten that far, isn´t actually helping but usually destroying the team just so the club evades the sanctions and in worst case is setting you light years behind from the current state.

As the finances screen and the sub-views are quite self-explanatory I wont be wasting this space and your time to go over those, instead I am going to talk about my ground rules of Keeping, re-signing, buying and selling players. To do this I am going to  lean heavily on my previous article  I wrote for FM16 while back and I hope you don’t mind. While going over this stuff we have to keep in mind that as virtual football bosses we are just as much in peril with our spending than our real life counter parts. Remember? Football Manager emulating life? Mentioned somewhere above?briefcase-money-theft-fraud-security-511823939-gary-waters-getty-compressor

Oh, one more thing. Almost forgot. Never ever let your staff do anything related to finances on their own. Never. Even though I know there are people that like to play this game in the most realistic way giving the set assistants and personnel do their job in this case I would not advice to do so. I’ve seen FM do epic plunders financially when given full control over certain things like: Hiring staff, buying players, contract renewals and sometimes even selling and what the game does not emulate and I wish it would in the future, is the fact that your staff does not get your approval on these rather just work on their own causing interesting ways for epic spending.

They are just pawns

When dealing with players I usually have two very strict rules I have distinguished for myself and which I hold on in a manic fashion.

  1. No one is above the club
  2. The club will not be held hostage in any way

These two apply to everyone from the lowest “money-option” youngster to the almighty Leo Messi himself including all the players and the staff between them. So in general, what are these rules? What do they mean and how are they enforced upon? Starting with the first one obviously. No one is above the club is a simple statement boiling down to the point where I won’t be making a decision to benefit the player or staff member and hurting the club in the same time. This could be a case of giving a hefty extension for aging player trying to cash in on with his current form due to deteriorate in the latter years on his contract. Which effectively could mean that I would have useless asset costing me money for little or no return.

The other rule the club will not be held hostage in any way is simply not giving in to demands in any way. Most of us have  been in the situation where one of our players is demanding a re-structure due to their current display of form. And yes, they never ask less money while playing poorly. For some cases you can deal with the situation by telling them to sack their agent and be done with it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not. For me, I never give in on demands when there is a current and agreed contract in place. Never. Also I have never lost a team because some primadonna thinks he is entitled to more sizeable  compesation for his effort. Rest assured, I will give you a new contract if I feel it is in order to do so. Otherwise you are in a world of hurt. Let me go by an example. I had this very well documented save on FM16 called “The Finnish Legend”. A hybrid save since it was covered in both the blog and youtube . On that save I played in Sampdoria for the most part of it and I had a player called Eder. With him we had this incident that I dealt with in strict manner and succeeded.

In’s, Out’s and In-betweens

We were supposed to cover things that help us avoid the dreaded FPP sanctions. Don´t worry, we are getting there bit by bit. Like I mentioned somewhere in the early stages of this scribbling of mine, I look at the contracts on squad view right from the start of save and make judgments on players according the info I get. From there starts the planning which usually is  an ever on going process after that is always evaluated in regular basis. Looking at the  wages,  I like to use the yearly wages because using weekly or even monthly wages, kind of gives you a false sense of security of where you stand financially. And like our real-life counterparts, we like that false sense of security. We like it very very much. It is a very basic human trait the actually needs attention to get around it.

To reach around that trait you have to create some tools for yourself. For instance, my tools to keep me on my toes are: The yearly wages – the bigger amount looks way worse than looking monthly or weekly, My rules mentioned above and Math. Why do I mention math whilst writing about relaxing and entertaining subject, such as a video game? I shall elaborate myself. One of the most important tools for my decision making is to calculate the total cost of having a player in your team and then measuring it. This goes for re-signing, signing, buying and selling a player. I will now resort to straight loans from my previous post on the matter since I think the methods used are still very much viable. After that I’ll look more closely on the actual contract making portion for players. This loaned portion is from the time I was managing Sampdoria.  Selling and replacing:

“I bought Manolas in the summer of 2016 from Real Madrid which was a straight cash deal of 12.5 m. He  settled in for a 5.2m/year contract for the next 4 years. 5.2mx4 would give us 20.8m in wages during that time and raise the total amount money invested in Manolas to 33.3m in situation where he would be 29. We would have received perhaps performances that could be held as fair against that investment. Do I believe I could have got 33.3m out of the deal selling him at the age of 29? Who knows, might have but I doubt that. When Bayern came in and activated the  release clause Manolas had served us roughly one year. Costing me during that time a total of 17.7m investment in his services. Again, is that amount acceptable towards the performances he put? This sort of thinking always boils down to the point where we start being philosophical about the money paid to football players. So let us not go there now. I say I was content with the performance I got from him. He was my best paid player on my team during that one year period.

So back to the clause. In Manolas´s case it was 28.5m in euros which covered the 17.7m investment and poured in 10.8m on top of that which I used 7.5 to replace him with Grillo leaving me 3.5 m to put in to Grillos wages 2.05/year for over a year and a half. Obviously things are more complex than that.

I had already signed Lopez for a steal price of 4.8m with 1.82 m/year  in wages for the next 3 years. Also Emmanuel Mammana was already in the team pushing for sizeable playing time for the team. Also I had off-loaded other players lightening the wage bill even more before the Manolas deal from Bayern. So considering all of this I could say it was a good deal for us.”

Buying:

Mario Asensio was transfer listed by Real Madrid with a fee of 7.5m and value of 13.25m He still had 3 1/2 years on his contract with 2.75/year. His wage hit would be 9.6m roughly to see out his contract in Madrid and adding that to his 13.25 value made him lucrative target for me if they would start making deals from that 7.5m

Falling short on the mental side of attributes at 21 he really has something to show more than Madrid gave him the opportunities for. I was quite sure if I could reel him in with reasonable investment he would be quite low-risk purchase for my Sampdoria team considering he would see value rise from that 13.25 after not being on TL in my team and getting steady playing time. As seen in the picture I could use him comfortably in multiple slots in the midfield getting him opportunities to help my team on different versions of GB. So in with the money talk. Starting off with some playful poking on low fees with Madrid it was soon clear they would only discuss above the 7.5m mark which was fairly reasonable point of entry for negotiations. Ultimately Madrid found their sweetspot around 9.5m which still was quite near the wage hit they would suffer keeping the player in their team.

Not really wanting throwing that money straight towards them I suggested giving 6m upfront and 3.5 after 50 league appearances which Madrid accepted leaving us sort out the details with the player. That 3.5 is due sometime around latter parts of next season and I will happily pay up if he plays up to projection I have for him. In that case he will be valued almost double the fee I eventually end up paying for him.

Contract details…..

Asensio actually ended up being my highest paid player for the moment. 6.05m/year until 2022. A quite hefty amount of 27,2 in wages I will pay him in the coming years until the end of his contract. With the fee I paid the whole investment would go up to 36,7m at the end of his contract while he would be 25. So if he does not totally falter during that time he will not move anything less than around 40m bid from Sampdoria if it comes near his contract. To sweeten the deal for the club side contract was included a 47m release clause if giants would come knocking with a purpose.”

These loaned portions were meant to demonstrate the though and decision making process I have while dealing players in and out.

How about players I am re-signing or signing from free then. Firstly, always go lookout at the end of December (or whatever the date is where you are managing) to see what you have available during the summer (what ever the off period is). There’s usually a surprise or two at least because of very loony spending on AI controlled teams capping their wages. It is. Check the transfer windows to see how loony they are sometimes. Ok, for re-signing then.

  • Spend time on contract screen to give away the least amount of money possible
  • Don´t ever settle for conditions you are presented, ever.
  • You can juggle around with very different options so use them.
  • Accept only the reasonable clauses, preferably none.

Clauses  are one of the worst  things causing your wage bill to sky rocket so you really need to be careful with them. Also you will always have to think of the team. Ask yourself: Do I believe the output of this player is worth the risk that comes with this contract or is there possibly a player somewhere that could give me the same with less amount of money. This question has to be paired with the best possible scouting available for your team so you will have option presented to yourself. Never ever lock into one player in any case. All the stuff mentioned here applies for the FA signing also with one major thing to be added. DON’T EVER DO AUCTIONS. Auctions or teams competing for the signature always lead to situations where you have little or no-control towards the end payment player will receive.

You have to remember that everything I have written so far requires actions on the other areas of the the  game also and this is a very isolated look on financial side of things. Along with the things I have described I have included planning quite long ahead. I always make my plans several seasons in the future. Players who go and come in are usually decided quite long time before the actual transaction. They are exceptions, always is. This is a fundamental approach for every team I manage. There are no stepping stones for me. Every decision and plan is made as if I would be managing the team forever.

Other Spending

It’s very easy to concentrate solely on the greens and the reds you see on screen but you should always take a look at the numbers and the way they are leaning towards. You should always be aware of loan payments, staff costs and future fees you have agreed on transfers coming in and out for you to be able to adjust your financial management. There are always costs that you can’t have control over which are labeled as “other costs” consisting upkeep costs for stadium etc.

Getting to port safely

Although it might seem very boring and time consuming, managing your expenditure is essential to be succesful in all levels of this beatiful mishmash of code we call Lif….Football Manager. I sincerely hope that topics I have discussed above will give you ideas, help and possible through that process will provide some newly foung interest towards the game. For me this portion of the game is one of the most giving aspects and also most fascinating. Maybe even too much, who knows.

If you are interested to see more of my work please keep yourself up to date on these platforms.

Twitter: @roustfps

My website: www.thefinnfm.com

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