Jan 08

Giving us something to play for? SI’s latest prize money revamp


In July, I wrote an editorial on the structure of prize money in Football Manager Live. In it, I essentially called for a dramatic reduction in income sources which weren’t directly related to official competition performance, such as stadium income, general income and media money; and this should be replaced by a greater emphasis on prize money, based on finishing positions within the league pyramid.

Well, on Monday, the new FML Future Developments forum contained a suggestion from Ov Collyer:

Suggestion – Give Prize Money More Importance

The general idea behind this suggestion is to tie more of your income into your performances in competitions in a given season, and as a result increase both the sense of a ‘dangling carrot’ where performance in a single season leads directly to greater purchasing power for the next, and a heightened sense needing to perform to maintain your status for those teams choosing to live on the edge of their budget.

Essentially, reputation would account for 50% of your income (via your stadium) with the remaining 50% accounted for directly by competition performances.

As part of this, we can simplify the financial system a little by removing FA media money and General Income entirely; managers then have two simple income streams to keep an eye on – their stadium (longer-term) income and their competition (shorter-term) income.

So, now is the time for me to declare my interests. Having made noises along these lines, I am obviously very happy that they have been taken on board. I am, then, very positive about these changes. Some may not be. So, I will try to look at these with some degree of objectivity. But if I fail, get commenting!

The removal of general income and media money

Removing general income means that you have to invest in your stadium if you want to be successful. The cap on what a team can earn with a badly developed ground is much more important; especially if you then rely on your league position to provide your income.

Media money’s removal also allows a much more transparent prize money system. It also gives federations more money to spread over their competitions. This can increase the gaps between positions and divisions, and ultimately “give us something to play for”. Promotion will provide real financial incentives, especially when this is tied into the new reputation system for calculating stadium attendances.

As the introduction to Ov’s post says, 50% of your income will come from your reputation and will provide your consistent, daily, long-term income. 50% of your income will come from your league position and will provide the bonus at the end of the season – making the short-term risk of trying to gain a promotion or win a tournament more attractive.

Both stadium income and prize money are directly related to on-pitch performance. Which means that success on the field is absolutely essential to maintaining income. Not only does that “give us something to play for”, it means the top teams have to keep winning in order to sustain their massive cash flow.

Will this increase the rich-poor divide?

Personally, I don’t think so. A number of people have expressed concern that these plans would see the bottom team in a federation receiving absolutely no prize money at all. Ov Collyer has noted this in his 6th January update to the opening post.

However, as far as I’m concerned, teams will be getting roughly the same income they do now. The spread is the same, but it is far more tightly focussed on performances on the pitch. In order to get the top, top money, you will need to win your Premier League, FA Cup and Premiership Cup to get the maximum prize money (or around £8.5m), and they will need a team of top players getting to the late stages of the UFFA Gold Cup three seasons in a row, with a well-developed stadium in order to get the maximum stadium income (of 200k a day, or £5.6m).

This is still a big gap between bottom of the Conference and UFFA Champions. But the big difference is that only a truly great team will be able to consistently win their league and keep their reputation up around 20 stars.

Currently, if a team in the top 10 doesn’t win their league and finishes, say, fifth, the amount of money lost is only around £20k-£50k. Under this system, not only might they lose a reputation star or two (especially if they did poorly in UFFA), they stand to lose around 100k in prize money. That may not sound much, but when taken with their reputation hit – which means a hit in income from their stadium – that can send clubs living on the edge of their financial projection over the edge. They will need to sell players and restructure themselves.

This is the failing of the current system, and the advantage of the new.

Will it work?

Whether this works in practice will be interesting to see. I would have thought those who are currently at the top of the gameworld will continue to be there. What I do hope is that there will be far more movement in the “mid field” of the gameworld. And I also believe there will be more volatility in the top 10 teams.

But (and it’s a big but) we need to see it in action. It won’t level the playing field so that everyone gets the chance to be number one (nor should it). But if it makes sustainability at the top dependent on constant success, and doesn’t give teams the chance to have a “bad” season, then I think this could be one of the best sporting changes in the game that we’ve had in a long time.

The one thing I’m disappointed with is that the UFFA competitions will not include prize money. However, the new reputation system makes the UFFA very important anyway. Even if the prize money isn’t direct, the biggest teams will need to reach the last 8 of the UFFA Gold Cup regularly to sustain their income.

Taken in conjunction then, this new prize money system plus the new reputation system makes everything about winning football matches. That makes players over 30 actually worth something. It means that teams will actually want to make that step up to qualify for the Gold Cup; or get promotion from League One to the Championship. It’s no longer just about pride, or bragging rights. It’s about playing and winning. Then you can rub it in!

Written By Gareth Millward
"Millie" is a long-standing member of the FM community and a co-founder of Gameworld One.Com. As part of FM-Britain, he was a contributor to TT&F and involved with the new tactical interface in FM2010.
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  • wisesif

    You simply said it all mate.

    This is maybe the MOST important change after the ACADEMIES..

    The economy will be 100% different now and the negative effects of a lost season for a top "expensive" team will at last affect the club's status...

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