How To Turn Your Pre-Season Into A Money-making Scheme

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.

The end of season commercial update.
The end of season commercial update.

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.

The data for a Barça home game.
The data for a Barça home game.

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.

The data for a Barça away game.
The data for a Barça away game.

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.

  • China;
  • Japan;
  • South Korea;
  • 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. More will follow in the near future.

UPDATE 29-04-2014

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.

The end of season commercial update after two Asian tours in pre-season
The end of season commercial update after two Asian tours in pre-season

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.