Hello again, and welcome to Episode 5 of FM Ambition.
Football is all about money these days. To win things, you need to buy good players, and that costs money. But to be able to buy the best players, you need to have won things, and have accumulated the money that comes with success. This is the paradox for all clubs who don't have a sugar daddy multibillionaire chairman who can buy a ready-made team of Galcticos off the peg. We're going to talk about exploiting the transfer market on Football Manager in this post, and look at how to build a bank balance - and the trust of your chairman - for the future. But before we dive in to that, here's our regular feature:
GREAT FOOTBALL MANAGER QUOTES
'Then you have Cristiano Ronaldo, £12m to £80m'
~ Alex Ferguson talking about his best transfers, and specifically the profit made on the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Every manager makes some mistakes in the transfer market - it even happened to Alex Ferguson. (Eric Djemba-Djemba, anyone?) But there must be a sense of financial satisfaction when you make a profit on a player the way Man Utd did with Ronaldo. Like it or not, big finance is part and parcel of the modern game in the upper leagues. If you want to be successful on Football Manager, you will have to manage club finances properly, and that means being successful in the transfer market; using the purchase of players not only to win matches and bring success, but to create financial security.
It is important to remember that your financial dealings in the transfer market do not happen in a vacuum. It's not as simple as buying cheap, and selling at profit. There are a host of things to consider. Will the player you buy actually fit in well at the club? With your tactics? Have you scouted them properly? What about their wage demands? Are you tied into to any sell-on clauses? What about the player's temperament? How will he react to your half-time hairdryer? Will the player increase or decrease in market value while at your club (based on both age and form)?
For most clubs, it's highly unlikely that you will operate at an overall profit in the transfer market. This is partly due to inflation, partly to the fact that players decrease in market value at the end of their careers, and many other factors. Fortunately, you won't only rely on income from player sales. Your club has income from tickets, programs, replica kits, sponsorship, advertising, TV money, and if you're lucky a generous chairman. So you can expect to see over time that you will spend more than you earn in the transfer market. The key is to mitigate net losses in the transfer market as much as you can, so that the other income leads to an overall healthy bank balance for the club. If you can do this, then as the coffers swell, the chairman will release more transfer funds, which makes it easier for you to wheel and deal in the market, further mitigating net loss, and maintaining healthy club finances.
As a Sheffield Wednesday supporter, I pretty much always choose to manage SWFC on the game. It's a tricky club to manage because despite supposedly having a rich chairman in real life, you don't start out with much in the way of transfer funds, and you have more than a few old or injury prone or inadequate players. And in previous years' iterations of the game, before SWFC's recent improvements, the transfer kitty was along the lines of two brass buttons and a bit of string.
However, I always manage to get SWFC promoted the Premier League in either season one or season two. I usually end up winning the Premier League by around Season five, and winning the Champions League by around season seven. I'm having great success on my current FM18 save, and yet my net transfer spend, by normal Premier League standards, is modest to say the least. Have a look:
That's a net spend of £445 million, and I'm currently in season ten, with an average spend of £44.5 million per season, and £10 million per player. The average is a bit misleading, though, because I spent hardly anything in season one, and then gradually spent more every season, until the current one, in which the chairman has tightened his belt. Even so, my net spend is tiny for a team with four Champions League wins, and two Premier League wins. A lot of this success is down to guile in the transfer market.
In my experience, you need a clear idea about what your transfer market policy, and overall financial policy is going to be. I stick to the following:
I do not exceed the wage budget. Obviously, you can adjust your overall budget by moving transfer funds into wages, or vice versa - but however I make those adjustments, I do not spend more on wages than whatever my wage budget is. The only exception is if there is an overlap between a player coming in and another player leaving, but this will usually never be for more than a few days.
I only buy players who I believe I will be able to sell on at some point. I will intend to either sell them on at profit, or if I intend for them to finish their useful (age-wise) career at my club, I at least want to be able to get something for them. I don't generally let players run down their contracts and leave on a free.
When I sign a player, I never ever agree to yearly wage rises, or to players getting a percentage of future sell ons.
Wherever feasible, when I sell a player, I try to get a 10% of next sale clause (not profit on sale).
When I sell a player, I never ever agree to continue to pay any of the player's wages.
If a player at my club is not going to get regular games (including reserve players), but I have future plans for them, I loan them out.
When I loan players out, I always demand the borrowing club pays 100% of wages, and wherever possible, I charge a monthly fee as well.
I will sign out-of-contract players who are not good enough for my team if I believe they can later be sold on for a good fee. I will loan them out for a season (with fees), and then sell them making a 100% profit.
I keep my eye out for unhappy, transfer listed players at big clubs. I will buy them at a knock-down price, and sell them on for profit.
Below are some screenshots that show you what is possible if you 'play' the transfer market:
There's something very satisfying about the profit made on Isaac Hayden, below...
Jack Butland, below, was 32 years old when I sold him for £13 million profit.
A ridiculous amount of profit on Tyrese Campbell, in a move that illustrates how I play the market.
Big money made on this winger...
Okay, so those examples above are transfers. Below, I'll show you how to make money in the loan market. All the following players were acquired as free transfers, with minuscule signing and agent fees. They were loaned out within days of signing. The borrowing clubs are paying 100% of their wages, AND the fees as shown. The players will either go on to join my first team squad in the future, or be sold on for clear profit:
Obviously, you don't always succeed in getting every player loaned out when you want. This may mean you have players at the club who are not going to be getting regular first team games, but who you either need to develop for your future squad, or increase their market value for selling on. For this, it is absolutely essential that you have the best possible coaching staff for your first team, reserve and youth squads. You have to be relentless in the acquisition of great staff. In season one on this save, most of my player signings were free transfers, and the little budget I did have went on getting great staff. I also make sure (in staff responsibilities) that there is a friendly every single week for the under 23s and the under 18s. The players who aren't getting first team football anywhere must still be playing regularly.
Having said all this, you can't budget for a chairman tightening his belt. The £75 million budget I was given at the start of this season was a shock, and I haven't been able to spend most of it, simply because the quality is not available for that money. Furthermore, my % of transfer revenue was reduced to 35% for a while, although now, thanks to my commitment to not overspending on wages, it is back to 100%.
Transfers aside, the season is going far better than I feared at the beginning, and I'm hoping that come January, more funds will be made available. Here's how the season is panning out so far:
Thanks for stopping by. I'll look forward to seeing you next time!