Much like in real life, FM15 sees the top clubs in Europe hoarding talent in a way similar to Scrooge McDuck acquiring money. These clubs often have a sugar daddy investing copious amounts of money, which allows them to make a play for pretty much any emerging starlet, whether they actually need these players or not. Whilst it can be hugely frustrating to lose your starlets to the money-bags from London, Paris, Madrid or Barcelona, you could also try to benefit from their behavior. In my eyes, there are two ways you can take this excessive hoarding from the top clubs and turn it against the top sides.
If you’re anything like me, you hate wasting money when you’re trying to sign reinforcements for your squad. One of the thorns in my side in that regard consists of the ultimate douchebag-fee; the agent fee. Seriously, I’m forced to pay some pretentious prick, sitting in an office on his arse money to negotiate a deal with the player. Most of these pricks must have watched Jerry Maguire, because the higher profile their clients have, the more ridiculous their fees become.
So fortunately for me and everyone else who wants to reduce the cut of these vultures, there is a way to work around them by simply tricking them. This sounds good, right?
Let’s just presume you have fallen under the spell of the siren song of strikerless tactics. Otherwise, why would you be here, on Strikerless.com? By its very name, a strikerless formation has no need for actual strikers. So, when you are hell-bent on playing a strikerless formation, you are going to have to find solutions for your excess bagage; the strikers you have inherited in the squad you have just taken control of. What do you do with excess (most if not all) strikers?
So what are the most effective and efficient ways to get rid of those banes of my Football Manager existence; strikers? If you’re the kind of guy that’s not interested in long, winded posts, here’s the TL;DR version:
- Re-train them;
- Sell them,;
- Loan them away.
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. Allow me to show you with just a single screenshot.
That’s 34 million from non-domestic merchandise sales. True, I am in charge of what is now a world class club, but the message also indicated the sales have risen due to a tour through China. This means that the right set of friendlies can not only help you raise tactical familiarity, allow you to assess your squad and new signings, raise the overall fitness level of your players, boost morale in time for the new league campaign. No, there’s the actual possibility to raise enough money to sign one or two extra players.
Again, I realise that the team I have taken under my wing is one of the best in the world in terms of players and reputation and the amount of money made in pre-season will be considerably less for lower level clubs, but just cut that number in half or divide it six ways. For a League 2 side for example, you’d still be able to raise roughly 5.5 million.
In terms of the money-making scheme, 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.
Again, allow me to show you with a simple example. I want to play a match versus the best team in the world in terms of reputation, which is FC Barcelona. Let’s see what we can expect from a home game against Barça.
A home game against Barcelona in our 64k stadium would bring in 1.4 million. Of that sum, we’d lose 750k to Barça as a sort of participation fee, which means our profit would be around 650k. Not too shabby, but let’s look at the potential revenue for an away game against the same opponent.
As you can clearly see, an away game will earn us a cool, clean 1.1 million. Barça will obviously make a similar fee, but that would be the participation fee we’d receive for just showing up. When you are arranging friendlies, experiment a bit with home and away games to see which games yield maximum financial results.
Please keep in mind that if you are in charge of a lower league side that whilst these money maker games are financially sound, they can be detrimental to squad morale when your players get their collective arses kicked during the matches. For example, when you’re in control of Compostela, challenging Barça or Real may be a smart move financially, but on the pitch, your ass is grass and they’re the lawn-mower. Metaphorically speaking naturally.
This leads me to the next point I wish to make. The importance of commercially interesting friendlies. As you could see in the very first screenshot of this article, it was absolutely a factor to be reckoned with. The Chinese tour during pre-season apparently yielded interesting results in terms of non-domestic merchandise sales.
It makes sense in a way. That trip to China is 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.
- South Korea;
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. More will follow in the near future.
I have gone down a second road, by arranging two tours during pre-season. I was curious if I could gain extra commercial income by arranging tours through two different Asian countries. I was actually pretty convinced I could, I was very interested to know how much extra income I could rake in, as this would help me determine what the value for a specific country. I say, see for yourself.
You can see for yourself, two tours equal an extra income of nearly 12 million in terms of non-domestic sales. However, domestic sales appear to have dropped because we haven’t played any domestic friendlies. The amount of friendlies we have played remained the same, we just played them abroad. It’s not extra money we’re making, it’s a re-distribution of our income sources. Next season, I will be looking increasing the income in total.
Another important part of wheeling and dealing is the pure and simple negotiating a deal. Several factors come into play here. First of all, you have to know what a player is actually worth. I’m not talking about the value displayed in-game, I’m talking about actual value in terms of the market. Is this is one-of-a-kind type of player, unique to this generation, is this a wonderkid with the potential to be the next Messi or is this a run-of-the-mill type of player?
I’m going to use a prime example of the last category here, seeing as you won’t be likely to sell the first two types of players. Say hello to Japanese wing-back Shinpei Mizunaga.
Mizunaga is an average wing-back. Decent and solid, but nothing spectacular. There are probably dozens of players like him out there, but Mizunaga is one of the few who is now for sale. Whilst he is not transfer listed, he has been placed in the reserve squad, signaling to AI clubs my willingness to sell. I hardly ever transfer list players, as that tends to attract ludicrously low offers.
In terms of value, I’d like to get between 6 and 7.5 million for the lad. That is more than what FM says he is actually worth, but I see a player almost in his prime, with good enough attributes for most top division sides in Europe, low wages, a senior international for his country and the added bonus of extra merchandising revenue from Japan.
With a 15k a week wage, Mizunaga has costed me at least 780k so far, not taking bonuses into account. If I add that sum on top of his market value of 5.25 million, I’m at the 6 million minimum I want for Mizunaga. The lad came in for free, so I don’t have to throw a transfer sum into the equation.
We know what we want, now it’s time to see who wants Mizunaga. When negotiating, it’s also important to see who is offering. Bigger sides are more likely to overpay, clubs from specific nations are more likely to spend big as well. For example, when teams from the Ukraine, Cyprus, Turkey or Greece come knocking, feel free to overcharge a lot more.
This time, it’s Vitesse offering us a deal. Despite being a top Dutch side, they don’t have millions to spend and they want to make a good deal, for them anyway. Quite frankly, I am insulted they are even trying this shit with me. At 2.7 million with no installments or clauses, they are having a piss…
Naturally, I am not going to accept such a low-ball offer. I’m going to show them how much I want. I’m going to counter with a high-end bid of 7.5 million. Vitesse are not likely to accept this, but when negotiating, it’s always a give-and-take approach that pays off. Vitesse raise their bid, I lower my demands until we meet somewhere in the middle.
Vitesse immediately decided to raise their bid. We’re still a long way off what I want for him, but we’re also in the initial stages of the negotiations. Things aren’t looking very bright at the moment, but should the negotiations cave, it does send a signal to other clubs we’re not selling for pea-nuts.
As I mentioned earlier, I am working towards reaching a sort of middle ground. They raised their bid, I lower mine. When asking 7 million, I’m still comfortably in the high end of what I actually want. I can slash half a million to make them more committed to these negotiations.
Vitesse have again raised their bid. We are now at almost a million more than their initial bid. Still a long way off what we actually want, but we’re getting there, slow and steady.
I decided to negotiate again. I kept in the installments for fun.
Vitesse are getting desperate with their next counter-offer, as they are slapping more and more clauses onto their bid. The negotiations are reaching their final stages and I have a bad feeling about the outcome.
I lower my asking price some more.
The next offer is probably the best Vitesse can do, considering all the clauses they have slapped on. They are still a million shy of what I want for this guy, so either I take the million “loss” or I wait for another buyer.
At this point, I decided to check my options. If Vitesse had been the only interested party, I would have probably sold him. It’s still a very decent profit, but as it stands, Lille are also interested and French sides have some more spending money.
I once again go for a high-end counter-bid.
Vitesse are most likely to reject it, which is what happens.
Even when these negotiations broke down in the end, it does show you how to raise the offers on your average players considerably. I could have taken their final offer and not been far off the value FM gives him.
The same concept also applies to big name players, or as I mentioned earlier, the arrived stars, the crème de la crème, the players you don’t actually have to sell. In terms of Pozzo’s Udinese, the Alexis Sanchez’ of the world. They are likely to attract big name clubs and you can make a killing here.
The guy in my example above is an Egyptian international, 23 years old, almost on top of his game and definitely a top player for his position. When a player attracts the attention of clubs like Barcelona and Real Madrid, he has game.
Again, I assessed his value. I don’t have to sell Shokry, so there’s no way I am going to go for his market value or a figure anywhere near there. Also, these clubs are loaded and can afford to splash the cash, so I might as well bleed them as dry as I can. I also have to take into consideration that I will face off against them in the Champions League and replacing Shokry would cost me a pretty penny, unless I relied on bleeding in a youth academy graduate. Barcelona’s initial offer of 17 million felt like an insult. They have a lot more to offer .
Using the same method as I mentioned earlier, I started negotiating. The outset was different though. For Mizunaga, I was happy with a value just over his market value. Mizunaga was a run-of-the-mill left-back, Shokry is, at this point in my save-game, one of the best players in his position.
Shokry, in my eyes, was worth nearly twice his actual market value. This took into consideration his relatively young age, low wages, sublime skill-set and the fact that a replacement of similar quality would cost me around 25 million or more. Barcelona, having more than enough money anyway, agreed to my terms quite quickly.
Fortunately for me, I did not have to invest in new players, since I always come prepared for deals like these. I invest in a shadow squad, which means I have young players sitting in the reserves, either waiting for a shot in first team or away on loan to a feeder club. In this case, one of my talents returned from a loan-spell and looked about ready for first team action.
In the end, I gained 35 million for a player who could easily be replaced by a youngster already at the club. When dealing with bigger clubs, don’t be afraid to ask for prices you initially thought would be insane. The big sides will pay crazy money when you ask them to.