Unless you have been living under a rock the past year, you will have heard about Brexit, one of the biggest political decisions taken in the UK since the Second World War. Before the EU referendum, debate raged about what the impact would be of a vote to leave the EU. Now the country has backed Brexit, the consequences and ramifications of this decision are still somewhat murky.
While the rest of the world holds its breath to see what happens now that Article 50 has been triggered, Football Manager 2019 features a Brexit scenario, which models some of the consequences of the UK leaving Europe. In this article, I want to look at a strategy you can use to benefit from Brexit by making a tidy profit on some of your players.
When Brexit kicks in, there will be restrictions to the number of foreign players UK clubs can sign, as well as more restrictive work permits. While players already under contract are generally exempt from these rules, it does mean the number of foreign players active in the UK will slowly dwindle.
The money pouring into the Premier League, however, does not decrease. This means every one of the 20 clubs is able to afford excellent players which in turn means that there are no easy rides, not even for the top sides. All the teams are involved in an arms race and it takes a lot out of the players. That is why you have to rotate as a manager, but you do have the financial means to create a large squad.
As the option to bring in foreign players to strengthen the squad becomes even more expensive, the amount of money floating around does not change and the need for large squads remains largely the same, the prices for domestic talent will skyrocket, ensuring even fringe squad players from any of the Home Nations will be worth their weight in gold, just because of their passport. There are no restrictions towards players from the Home Nations, plus they count towards the home-grown quota required both in the league and in Europe.
Essentially, all the aforementioned reasons cause the transfer prices and wage demands of English, Welsh, Scottish and (Northern) Irish (be they world class or utterly mediocre) players to go through the roof. That means that such players who are active in abroad become interesting targets for wealthy Premier League and Championship teams because of the way Football Manager calculates player’s value.
Reputation as a value driver
The calculation of a player’s value is mostly down to one important factor; reputation. On several levels, reputation drives the transfer market value of a player in Football Manager. There are three forms of reputation that help determine a player’s value.
- Individual reputation;
- Team reputation;
- League and world reputation.
For a team in a lower reputation league, a talented young player’s value can be decidedly lower than for a club that is active in a league with a seriously high reputation. Similarly, clubs active in higher reputation league have higher-valued players. Not necessarily because they are better players but because they are active for higher-profile clubs in higher-profile leagues.
You can see this best when a player transfers to a club from another league. Let’s have a look at an example of reputation driving value from the save I am running with Mark
Our case study here is Dănuț Crăciun, a Romanian goalkeeper. He was brought in from the Romanian top-flight club Viitorul for a hefty fee of 3.6 million, which is a lot of money. Since the Premier League has a much higher reputation, the AI already calculated an increase of value in determining his net worth.
The 3.6 million is a severe markup on his actual value of around 90k. The AI takes his age into account and the expected reputation boost from moving to a bigger club, in a bigger league, in a bigger nation and recalculates the value accordingly.
To be fair, I had no issue paying that much for a player from the Romanian league, because I was confident his value would be reassessed as soon as the deal was completed. The high reputation of Huddersfield, the Premier League and England will cause the value of players active in such a league to spike, which is what happened.
The day after the transfer took place, Dănuț Crăciun’s transfer value had increased a mere 90k to 4.3 million. The AI appears to have no trouble predicting such shifts and spikes in value and therefore has no problem with seemingly overpaying for a player. The league reputation caused a spike and since the AI anticipates them, it takes this future spike into consideration when negotiating a deal buying players.
The Brexit scenario
Now that we have a general understanding of how the transfer market calculates the value of a player, I can explain how Brexit makes a specific category of players interesting for foreign clubs. I would like to use a specific case study to illustrate my point; Nick Blackman.
Nick Blackman is an English professional footballer who plays as a striker for Sporting de Gijón, on loan from Derby County. He spent a season on loan with Maccabi Tel Aviv in the past and he was brought in on a free transfer at the start of the third season. He is not a bad footballer but he is not going to reach the pinnacle of British football. Still, he holds an English passport, which makes him a Home-Grown player for British clubs.
Nick came in as a free agent and after adapting to the strikerless style (i.e. he had to be retrained to play as a shadow striker), he played a dozen or so games for us, including a few during our European campaign. More importantly, Nick Blackman did not only participate during these games, he also scored a few goals and generally did well. A modest Championship footballer is generally speaking one of the better players in the Israeli league, so his reputation improved quite a bit.
At this point, halfway into the third season, Brexit was in full swing. Talented British footballers were becoming more and more expensive, because of their value concerning Home-Grown quota. With the domestic market being as expensive as it was, many clubs turned an eye abroad to seek out players based outside the UK that could meet the required criteria.
Enter Nick Blackman; a moderately talented top-of-the-Championship-dash-bottom-of-the-Premiership type of footballer. Blackman had recently participated in a number of Champions League fixtures and even scored a few goals for us. His reputation had soared somewhat compared to playing in the Spanish Segunda Division, so he was catching the attention of the scouts’ eyes across the UK.
At this point, the reputation story becomes interesting again. Compared to England and English clubs, Maccabi and Israel are relatively low-level concerning their respective reputations. These low reputations and subsequently low market value mean that Blackman is, for English clubs, a bargain deal if they can get him at around his market value.
If you are somewhat familiar with the game mechanics, you can use this knowledge to your advantage, as I did in the case of Blackman. When the winter transfer window opened, offers came in for Nick Blackman. These offers had a variety of sources, ranging from near-the-bottom Premiership clubs to mid-table Championship clubs. Blackman’s market value was around 500k at the time and the initial offers matched his market value.
Shrewd negotiating is the name of the game at this point and I eventually managed to double the offer to over a million. Now that may sound like pocket change to you but 1 million goes a long way in a lot of the smaller leagues in the game.
Replicating such a feat would not be that tricky. Signing a moderately talented British player is not that difficult, especially since the bigger English clubs tend to release a fair few of them each season. Improve their reputation and the bigger clubs will come knocking.
I would have used this trick a lot more if I had the chance. I had serious plans to sign Lewis Baker in the past but sadly, the Israeli league limits me to just six non-Israeli players each season. Sergi Samper was simply a better player with lower wage demands and I couldn’t gamble on Baker developing into the kind of player that steer us into the semi-finals of the Champions League.