Football is just like the rest of the world. It is all about money. Crazy amounts of money, mostly, when football is involved. In the real world, you should plan your money wisely. I advise doing the same in FM.
In this article, I will talk about my planning. Feel free to use it as you see fit.
I tend to plan my money around a two-year cycle. It isn’t a problem if I lose money in the first season, as long as I correct that in the second season. This way I make sure that any monetary problems don’t grow over my head. Obviously, I might not be around in the second season to correct my earlier loss, but at that point, it is no longer my problem.
To make my plan and keep to it, I use a few little tricks I picked up over the years.
The first is a salary cap. I set a limit on the amount of money I pay to my players (and staff). I do that based on their role in my squad. A talented youngster will make less than the midfielder that is indispensable to my team.
In the game, there are some limits to the wages you can pay, set by the board. My advice would be to look at those and take it from there. At some clubs, you can get away with going with the limits that are set for you. At most clubs, especially the smaller ones, you will have to fine tune those to your liking, mostly a bit lower than what the board sees as fitting.
This doesn’t work without keeping a keen eye on the squad roles that are present in your team. Many players (I’ve done that more times than I can count), set and forget. I have made a note that I taped to my monitor to check twice every season. On the first of January and the first of July, I look at the results of the last 6 months. Based on form, goals, assists, basically about the value of the player for that period, I switch some players to a different role. Only one tier up or down, mostly, I want to change things, not ignite a revolt in the dressing room.
Transfers & Transfer Cap
In my last article, I went into what I look at in transfers and transfer clauses to make sure I don’t go bankrupt. Transfers are a big part of my financial planning.
Without resorting to selling one or two players every year, most smaller clubs don’t make ends meet.
The easiest way is to sell your best player every year. The smartest way is to plan ahead for your transfers. During the season it becomes clear which player will most likely leave at the end of the season. I’m not talking about the terrible defender you will have to let go for free just to make sure you never again need to watch him giving away goals like Christmas presents, though you have to plan for that too.
I’m talking about looking at your squad, identifying the most likely candidates for a transfer, be it based on performance, the fact that they don’t fit in your squad or just because you dislike them.
You need to plan ahead here, so you have a replacement lined up when you actually seal the deal. This makes sure you don’t overpay for a mediocre player during the crazy part of transfer season, just to fill up a key position.
All this is not about money, except that it actually is. While planning what players to sell and buy, keep your eye on an imaginary cap you set for every position. What position in your squad, within your style of play, is key. Splurge there and be (a bit) frugal at other places. Because throwing caution to the wind and spending huge amounts on disappointing players is a shortcut to failure.
Money has the tendency to slip away. Money in football doubly so. Keep your eye on your finances screen once every in-game month or so. Look at the projections, look at what you have spent in the past month. Just look out for irregularities and little money sinks that you can’t explain. In my last save I kept losing around 5-6k a month on wages that I could not explain. Turns out there was a player in my U19 with a huge wage, loaned out to a small club for free. I somehow missed that and let the situation go on for 4 months before I caught up. In the next transfer window, I sold him, making up for the money bleed, but just barely. No big deal for Man City or Barcelona, big deal in the german third tier.
These are the three most used tricks I employ to watch my finances. Obviously, this is not an exhaustive guide. If you have tips that should feature here in a future article, please let me know.