Pre-season is good for a great many things. It can help you raise tactical familiarity, you get the chance to assess your squad and new signings, raise the overall fitness level of your players, boost morale in time for the new league campaign and there’s the opportunity to make some serious cash during pre-season.

Whilst I find all of these aspects to be equally important, I do find that I often overlook the financial aspect of the pre-season. However, the commercial and financial impact of the right pre-season friendlies can be immense. I wrote about this for FM14 and I’ve decided to re-vamp this approach after reading about it again on AlexOnFM.

Whilst the article Sander (follow him @FM_RTC) wrote matches the findings I initially had, I feel there’s more information that we can gather on this subject. His research focussed solely on playing a tour abroad, not on the advantages of combining tours through multiple countries and the effects of domestic friendlies. I want to come up with the ultimate pre-season money-making schedule.

Now before I start going all statistical on you, let me first distinguish two forms of income influenced by the pre-season friendlies. First of all, you can gain money from the sale of match tickets. Secondly, the right pre-season games influence your commercial sales, both domestically and abroad.

The sale of match tickets is easy enough to explain. You play a game, people visit the game and have to buy a ticket for the match. The money gained from this match is shared between the two sides playing the match, though not always evenly.

This leads me to my next point. There are guides out there saying you should always, at all costs, play friendlies in your own stadium. I disagree with this statement. During home-games, you have to pay a sum to your opponent to show up. Depending on the reputation of your opponent and your own reputation, both the sum you have to pay as well as the projected income tend to vary. When the income you make is not a lot more than the sum you have to pay your opponent, a home-game is just not profitable. However, this article will solely focus on the effects of pre-season tours for the merchandising income, ignoring the match revenue income.

The basic setup

In order to do examine, analyse and evaluate the effects of pre-season schedules on merchandising income, I’ve basically ran five simulations of the same season with Chelsea, but with different pre-season schedules set up. These are the five settings I have used:

  1. The basic setting; every friendly played is a domestic friendly, with an even spread between home and away games;
  2. The US foreign tour; every friendly is played in the US, which is a commercially interesting country and we had a feeder club there;
  3. The mixed approach; a tour consisting of four friendlies was played in the US, followed by a tour through England, with an even spread between home and away games;
  4. The over-the-top-approach; every friendly played is played abroad, half of them are played in the US and the other half is played in Japan;
  5. The high-intensity mixed approach; we play two foreign tours, visiting the US and Japan but we’re finishing the pre-season with a domestic tour, with an even spread of home and away games when we are doing our little domestic tour.

 The basic setting

In our basic setting, we had set up a grand total of 16 friendlies to be played exclusively in the UK. I set up a nice mix of home and away games against different levels of opposition. We played local lower league opposition as well as other Premier League clubs in this experiment. These were the outcomes.

merchgraphbasic

In total, Chelsea made 24,16 million from the tour, with a large chunk of it being attributed to domestic income. That makes sense, since we didn’t really spend any time abroad in pre-season.

The US foreign tour

In this US foreign tour setting, we had set up a grand total of 16 friendlies to be played exclusively in the US. I set up a nice mix of games against different levels of opposition. We played local lower league opposition as well as MLS clubs in this experiment. These were the outcomes.

merchgraphyanks

In total, Chelsea made 24,61 million from the tour, with the spread between domestic and non-domestic income being almost equal this time. The increase in total revenue however has not been a sizeable one, so I do feel it’s safe to conclude that spending an entire pre-season abroad really isn’t going to do you that much good.

The mixed approach

In this mixed approach tour setting, we had set up a grand total of 16 friendlies. I played 8 of those in the US and 8 of those in a domestic setting. For the US tour, I set up a nice mix of games against different levels of opposition. We played local lower league opposition as well as MLS clubs in this experiment. For the domestic tour, I set up a nice mix of home and away games against different levels of opposition. We played local lower league opposition as well as other Premier League clubs in this experiment. These were the outcomes.

merchgraphmix

In total, Chelsea made 25,65 million from the tour. The amount of income from the US tour has stayed roughly the same, whilst the extra domestic friendlies have helped us to gain some extra income. We have made a little over a million in extra income. Whilst this would probably cover Hazard’s wages for a mere month or so in this example, it’s a sizeable enough increase.

The over-the-top approach

In this over-the-top approach tour setting, we had set up a grand total of 16 friendlies. I played 8 of those in the US and 8 of those in Japan. For both the US and Japan tour, I set up a nice mix of games against different levels of opposition. We played local lower league opposition as well as MLS/J-league clubs in this experiment. These were the outcomes.

merchgraphsott

In total, Chelsea made 27,96 million from the tour. The first thing I noticed is the dramatic increase in non-domestic income, whilst the domestic income has taken a sharp decline. Part of this makes no sense. The increase in non-domestic makes perfect sense. When you spend time in two foreign countries instead of one, it would make sense to see your income from these tours increase. What makes no sense is the sharp decline in domestic income. When we played in the US exclusively, we still made a cool 13,58 players, despite spending no time in England at all. When we play in two foreign countries, this number nearly halves.

The high-intensity mixed approach

In this over-the-top approach tour setting, we had set up a grand total of 20 friendlies. I played 8 of those in the US and 8 of those in Japan, whilst we played 4 friendlies in a domestic setting. For both the US and Japan tour, I set up a nice mix of games against different levels of opposition. We played local lower league opposition as well as MLS/J-league clubs in this experiment. For the domestic tour, I set up a nice mix of home and away games against different levels of opposition. We played local lower league opposition as well as other Premier League clubs in this experiment. These were the outcomes.

merchgraphfinal

In total, Chelsea made 28,03 million from the tour. Whilst the numbers have slightly stabilised, it’s safe to say that these numbers are not simply about adding up values we gained from the previous simulations. The game engine is probably a bit too complex for my simplistic experiments, but this has been the setup that yielded the best overall outcome. A good pre-season setup would be one that combines two foreign tours with some domestic friendlies.

The final outcomes

For a final outcomes, it makes sense to just compare the five situations and see which results they yield.

merchgraphtotal

Whilst the game engine is far too complex for my simplistic experiments, I hope I have shown you the added value a tour through one or more foreign countries can make. Whilst the increase isn’t quite as dramatic as I had hoped, there is still a four million gap between the initial setup and the final one. Again, for a club like Chelsea, four million isn’t all that, but replicate the results for smaller clubs and you get maybe a half a million difference, which could just mean the difference between signing that one player who can turn a season around.

It makes sense in a way. Those trips to the US and Japan are about much more than the football. In real life, Manchester United were one of the first clubs to go on a big preseason tour, and their worldwide support and sponsorship deals have subsequently given them an advantage over the rest of the league. FM tries to mimick this by making the Asian and North American countries, which traditionally lack a strong domestic league but to boast a large number of football fans, commercially interesting options. From a commercial perspective, playing friendlies all over the world offer a club the chance to expand their brand name and fan base, strengthen brand loyalty, build global partnerships and generally make a large amount of money.

Now in terms of which countries are interesting ones to visit, I must admit I have not tried every available option there is, simply because I don’t have that much spare time on my hands. What I can tell you is that various Asian countries offer interesting possibilities, not only in terms of revenue income, but also in terms of commercial income.

In no particular order, these are countries which have significantly boosted my income when I played there during pre-season.

  • China;
  • Japan;
  • South Korea
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • UAE;
  • USA.

I am sure there are other viable options as well. India, Thailand and Indonesia for example are all viable options in real life, but I have no idea how their economic and commercial ratings are in the game right now. When trying to balance revenue with commercial interest, I can tell you that none of these sides have high reputation clubs you can play to gain some direct revenue income, which is why I have not played pre-season tours there. I can therefore not share any data on the commercial possibilities in other countries.

 


Guido

Guido is the founding father of Strikerless and main nutjob running the show.

7 Comments

Anders · May 12, 2015 at 5:04 pm

Hi, something I feel you should add was how much you made from “sign on” fee for the away games as well if there was a significant difference between domestic and abroad. Usually, this will also mean millions to top level teams.

    strikerlessGuido · May 13, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    You mean the money teams pay you to show up? Yeah, I suppose I could do that.

journeymanfm · May 12, 2015 at 9:12 pm

I’m impressed by this in-depth analysis of how to make the most out of pre-season friendlies. I definitely need to try this out. I had always just assumed that the commercial windfall come just by virtue of having affiliates in the relevant countries. I remember on one of the older versions playing as a lower league club and just setting up one friendly after another against Bayern, Dortmund, etc.. By the end I had about 1,2 mio I think. The game has come a long way since then. At the beginning my Ibar side couldn’t even set up a profit-making friendly.

Adrian Hunt · June 12, 2015 at 3:29 pm

Question: Does the revenue you get from the tour in USA/Japan decrease if you don’t have an affiliated club in those countries?

I am thinking about my pre-season and I have a club in China/South Korea but not Japan/USA, so to me it makes more sense to go to China/South Korea than Japan/USA.

    strikerlessGuido · June 12, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    I haven’t checked this correlation, but I suppose it will influence the numbers, even if it’s just a minor influence.

André Santos · July 7, 2018 at 10:20 am

Hi,

Making money is probably my favorite in game activity.

I’ve tested the scenarios you’ve presented and for me, the over-the-top approach ended up being the one which worked better.

Thank you for the content, hopefully this motivates you to do a re run on FM2018.

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