Small tips about building a successful club (club hoppers can ignore)
I thought about how different bits of information are spread around the forums, help files, etc. and how some people around believe the best managers are in some sort of cabal that possibly runs the game to suppress competition or hold onto know-how that is essential to build a successful club.
Well, those on the top probably know what they are doing better than most, and nobody will spoon-feed anybody how to build a club. But this doesn't mean I'm not looking to help anybody asking me a question or two or offer my help around, which happens a lot in private (and I mean a lot!)
Since the forums have been a rather displeased place recently and there seems to be a "doom'n'gloom grumpy" camp and a "head in the sand everything is rosy" camp or whatever you choose to call them, I thought perhaps a more substantial thread focusing on all those small bits of information could be a more positive and meaningful thing to have something to talk about. If it helps somebody, great, if it prompts discussions that say something more than "boo, changes, woo, where's Ron, doo, the RNG is terrible because this one guy played agg 10 and didn't get a red card" - even better.
I apologize in advance if my thoughts are a little scattered since I put this down and got back to it a number of times today in between work. I am sure I have missed out on a million things, and there are a million others that are open to a different interpretation. If you feel this way, please feel free to pitch in.
Please try to be positive in your replies and avoid off topic, I hope this may be a good thread for newcomers and why not even regular managers to find some answers and ask some questions about the game.
I won't be talking about the most basic things because I trust everyone can get familiar with those with relative ease.
So here are some small tips about building a successful club (club hoppers can ignore these):
- Don't forget to check these notifications on a daily basis. It doesn't just prompt you to pick a side for the next game. You will get notifications of youth and senior players' contracts about to expire, as well as staff members. It's a newbie thing until real life overwhelms you and it happens to you... and it can hurt!
- Stadium tips - try to pay attention to your attendances. Ideally you want your ground full for each and every home game, regardless of how low you will have to set your ticket price (TP) to achieve this. Under 100% attendances can really hurt your club because they take a long time to recover so don't let them drop in the first place! If that happens however, it is better to sacrifice your current income and drop the prices in order to build the attendances up, for as long as it takes to get back to 100%. Once you have oversub (the extra crowd who couldn't get in the ground when it's 100% full), you will want to micromanage the TP based on your next opponent (stronger clubs will draw more audience), the competition (cup games will attract slightly less attendance in some cases, and the latter stages of them will be hosted in a neutral ground which may have more or less stands than your stadium), and fluctuations in your own club rating (that's most obvious when you have just bought an expensive player and youd club rating took a huge dip); as well as a new big stand opening.
One thing managers often get wrong is expanding their stadium. It sounds good to have a 14,000 seater, or a 25,000 seater... but that's not necessarily a good thing! Remember that filling your stadium 100% is a must and when you expand, your attendances will decrease. Each new stand generally means you will need to drop the TP to fill the ground. If you get 10,000 audience at 40 TP, that's 400,000 credits per home game - if you then expand and get 14,000 audience at 25 TP, that's 350,000 credits per home game. While your daily expenses on simply maintaining the ground will grow with each stand you add! Is it worth adding 4,000 or 8,000 extra seats just because you have the money available, if your TP is sitting at 20? Also keep in mind that investing in your ground is always money you could have spent elsewhere.
- Finances tips - this is an area where most managers struggle. It is a hard thing to balance and there is no universal truth about how you should run your club financially - that depends on the way you want to approach the game and what you personally think is fun.
But still, there are some things that will generally put you in a better position. You have two tabs to keep an eye on: income and expenses. Logically, you want your income to be maximized and your expenses to be minimized.
Maximizing income basically means to make sure your stadium is always full, to try and reach as far as you can in the cup competitions and as high as possible in the league table (unless promotion is against your strategy), and to cash in on your players by selling them. There is no best choice about selling players but the best you can do is to look at them, no matter how good, how young, how potentially superstar they are, as assets. First make sure you are aware of their value against similar players on the market - if you can't observe the market, you can always ask experienced managers for a fair valuation and what they think the going rates are. When you know that, you can consider if it is better to keep that 28 year old star striker for a couple more seasons or sell him before his market value drops. At best the price you can get for any player will vary on sheer luck the older he gets. A player you can reliably sell for 15 million when he is 24 may sell between 5 and 10 million when he is 29 and between 2 and 8 million when he is 31.
Expenses are massively important, too. Are you sure your wages are optimized? Experiment with this, try negotiating with different players to get an idea what terms they would accept. Perhaps you are paying this lad 2000 credits more than needed, or that lad doesn't need to be on 4000 appearance fee. Most clubs, probably even all clubs, pay more on wages than they could.
Here is something massively important managers can often neglect: tax. You have to remember your profits for the season are subject to tax when it closes. Tax rules are as follows:
0 to 2,000,000 - 0% tax (no tax is paid on seasonal losses)
2,000,001 to 5,000,000 - 10% tax
5,000,001 to 10,000,000 - 20% tax
10,000,001 and upwards - 40% tax
*End of season prize money is included in your profit!
How does that work? Your first 2 million of profit is tax free. Your next 3 million profit gets taxed by 10%. Your next 5 million profit gets taxed by 20%, and anything above gets taxed by 40%. This means if you gained 20 million profit for the season, the first 2 million of that won't get taxed, the next 3 million will get taxed by 10% (300,000 tax), the next 5 million will be taxed by 20% (1,000,000 tax) and anything above 10m profit, in this case 10 million, will be taxed by 40% (4,000,000 tax) - adding up to a cumulative 5,300,000 tax.
This basically means you want to end the season on a profit, but not too much profit. Sometimes you will get caught up in situations you can't avoid a significant tax fee - you sold a couple of players and then couldn't sign a replacement in time so the money is burning a hole in your pocket. In this case it may be worth considering spending some on a new stand ahead of your plans to avoid huge tax. But keep in mind that while unpleasant, paying significant tax is not necessarily a wrong move! It does allow you to enter a new season with more money than the previous one and that can be beneficial.
- Staff tips - you will get access to new, better staff once you reach the next club rating tier. The club tiers are as follows: 501 - 1500; 1501-2500; 2501-3500, etc. Keep in mind when running adverts for new staff that the results you get in the end will depend on the club rating points you have on that day. Try to avoid situations when you have 4522 rating points when you run the ad but drop to 4488 when it expires - if that happens, you will get staff from the 3501-4500 tier and not the higher one! Also note the higher tier starts at 4501 points in this case, and not 4500!
Another thing you may keep in mind is that many managers don't see the value in having an assistant manager because those don't play any obvious role in aiding your club. It's worth remembering that average staff rating (ASR) is one of the things that increase your club rating. Having no assistant manager (or any other staff position) will net you a lower ASR total and therefore you will miss out on a small boost in club rating. It may only be a few points but that can make a difference when you are close to the next tier!
One last thing when hiring staff. Unless really pressed by club rating (you can't hold it inside the higher tier for long), you may not want to hire the first staff you find. Even long ads for staff may not return the best staff for the tier. You could be better off holding out and repeating the ads until you find the staff with the best attributes. Remember that staff won't accept short contracts and once you hire those you will be stuck with them for a few seasons, unless you pay a significant fee to tear their contracts.
- Board tips - many managers are worried about the board expectations. There is one simple tip here: don't! Your board approval rating will inevitably hit 0/100 at some point. There is NO PUNISHMENT when that happens. Ignore it completely.
- Scout network tips - you need scouts for the obvious options to scout for youths, specific players that are listed on the market of a league you won't see or simply scouting an opponent. One thing you can keep in mind here is having additional scouts could give you more youths to choose from when filling your youth academy. It may be beneficial to have 3, 4, 5, even more scouts depending on your max staff numbers allowed (this limit grows with each next club tier you hit).
MATCH DAY TAB:
There isn't much I can say here - it is up to anyone to find out how they want to play the game in terms of tactics and formations. Don't be shy to experiment or outright steal how others approach this side of the game - you will learn over time what works and what doesn't.
Be wary of aggression. It may be worth trying 8, 9, even 10 aggression against stronger teams but it can also lead to injuries and bookings. Try to judge if the risk is worth a potential reward.
- Insurance tips - it's hard to justify insurance as it costs a lot, too much actually. Still there are a couple exceptions you may want to consider.
Bronze insurance covers the medical fees for injuries. It basically means you won't pay 10,000 credits or so when one of your players is injured a bit more seriously. This level of insurance is cheap and it is worth considering signing up your entire squad on it. You will be saving money if you get unlucky with injuries over the season and the expense isn't serious. Granted, the money you would spare if you get punished hard with injuries isn't something big either, but why not?
The other two levels of insurance are possibly worth considering when you have a player on low wages who is about to sign a much more expensive contract. Say that youth you signed on 600 credits has turned into a 80 rated star and will sign a 14,000 per day deal tomorrow? Why not insure him so that you don't pay those wages at all if he gets injured for the season?
- Training tips - the simple tip here is to check what attributes each training routine improves, then what attributes each player position needs the most and prioritize what to train first. Don't forget you can try to boost quicker growing attributes first to improve the player rating, but that doesn't mean it will produce the best short term results on the pitch!
Another thing some managers neglect is the importance of Match Fitness. You want all your developing players to be as close to 100 MF as possible at all times. If they aren't, they will train at much slower rates.
Fatigue also matters. Fatigued players won't improve as quickly and will perform worse on the pitch so try to keep your lads fresh. One exception is during the final days of the season - if you didn't reach the final rounds of the IAG Cup, you have no competitive games to worry about and you can bust your players as fatigue will reset when the new season commences.
Try to avoid training players who have picked up a knock - their Fitness is under 100. It's unclear if attempting to train them will increase the risk of injury, but I'm pretty sure they don't get their attributes increased so it's pointless.
- Youth Academy tips - this is a crucial part of your club and you will want to use it the best way possible. Keep in mind you have 8 slots for youths at any given time and they take a long while to promote. So be very selective of what youths you recruit there in the first place, and what age they are. Youths at the age of 12 will take 4 full seasons in your academy before you can even try to promote them, occupying a slot. Youths at the age of 17 will turn 18 at a random point before their contract expires, reducing the chance they will accept promotion.
You will always face the risk of any youth declining promotion, no matter how good, no matter how long he spent in the academy. The general accepted rule is that the less days there are left on a youth's contract, the more likely he is to accept - but even then there is a risk he will decline.
Because you want to try and promote youths when they have a few days left on their contract, it's important to try and remember (or write down) when their birthdays are. Be careful when you renew the contract on 16 year olds - if it's not on the last day of their current deal and they turn 17 before that day, next season they will turn 18 with a few days left on the contract and promotion will be attempted at a higher risk to fail.
Youth rating is a generic indicator of how good the youth will be when promoted. It usually means the youth rating will approximately match the promoted player's Fixed Attributes, which determine how good he can become before his attributes max out. This doesn't automatically mean a youth rated 50 will have a lowest Fixed Attribute of 50 though. Some will be better than anticipated, and a lot will be slightly worse.
There are two possible applications of the youth academy: producing first team players and producing players to sell and boost your income. Be careful if you are chasing the first teamers route. The academy will rarely produce players at the level of your current club rating tier and filling your squad with young but worse than your average players WILL STALL your club. They can be a decent temporary solution for the bench or to go through a tough period when your squad numbers are low, but relying on them too much will be damaging. At the very least be aware this approach will cause your club to regress over time if you lean on it too heavily.
On the other hand, producing youths for sale can be a life saver when generating funds to invest in your first team. You will want to get as many of those promoted, so keeping your academy always working is important - thus keeping your scouts on a constant lookout for new youths.
Be careful how you fill your academy. Many youths will not improve over a long time and then suddenly explode and train a lot. Most of the youths your scouts find will be very poor. Do you want to cherry pick those 30, 40, 50 rated youths and hire only them? Do you want to fill your academy with 15 or 16 year olds only so that you can promote them quicker? Do you want to risk hiring 60 rated 12 year old, who will occupy that slot for many seasons and may not even promote in the end? It is all up to you - just be aware how the system functions and then decide what is best for you.
Transfers are vital.
Good players on the market are few. Inflation is monstrous. Decent and even poor players cost a fortune. You will miss out on most of your targets, and this will **** you off.
Despite all of this, you want in. If you want to build your club up, you cannot afford to neglect this beautiful mess, this atrocity, the game's babyeater called the transfer market.
The technical side of the transfer market is simple. The game has 10 leagues and your club is in one of them. You can see your own league's market at all times. Your visibility of the other leagues' markets rotates daily, in a specific order. The order is as follows:
Scotland - Nigeria - England - Spain - Germany - Japan - USA - Brazil - Ireland - Italy - Scotland (and repeat, skipping your own league)
What you want to keep in mind here is that your players are assets and while they cost a fortune to bring in (if they are good), they can also be sold at any point and potentially bring in a fortune, too.
The game operates on cycles, or in two words, your players age and retire, and need replacements. While ideally you would want to sign a replacement a couple seasons before you sell the player you are replacing (to train the replacement up), you will rarely have this luck due to market competition, lack of funds and a bunch of other things that don't go to plan.
Since your squad is the bread and butter of the game, it is essential you understand how it relates to your club beyond the best 11 you can field on the pitch, and build a strategy around it so that you can develop the club in the long run.
Most of the crucial decisions that will get your club to prosper or stall will be around the players you buy and sell, and when precisely you buy and sell them.
One of the crucial factors that shape your club rating is the average player rating (APR). It isn't precisely the average of all your squad's ratings, but in general the higher rated your players are, the higher APR will be. The higher your APR is, the easier it will be to reach the next club rating tier, get access to better staff, train your players more, get better results, etc. - in other words, it's a cycle.
On the other hand, money is also a factor that shapes your club rating. Good players cost a lot and buying them decreases your club rating. If they aren't fully trained, your APR will also decrease and further damage your club rating.
It's a constant struggle to replace your players and improve the overall quality of the squad while also aiming to hit the next club rating tier. This is why it is so important to maximize your income, to minimize all expenses, and to choose wisely when you invest in the stadium. It is also why the academy is vital in providing you with fresh income to reinvest in better players (if you sell youths regularly) but can be damaging if you count on it for first teamers (because promoted youths will generally be worse than what you can get on the market and reduce not only your current APR, but the potential APR you can reach, essentially putting a cap on your club rating, too).
For the sake of these tips, we'll separate current club rating from potential club rating. Potential club rating is basically what you can achieve with the resources you have at the moment, but you haven't achieved yet. It includes possible boost in finances by selling old players or players of low rating who won't improve but are below your APR (like a 30 rated player in a squad of 55 APR), or youths who will never reach 55 rating but you are nurturing them to get a better price. It includes any possible boost in APR by getting rid of those players who drag it down, or by training your top talent untrained players to the best level you can.
Most of the hard decisions you take will decrease your current club rating a lot, but if in the long term they increase your potential club rating - they will be beneficial.
I'll be honest here. If you want your club to grow, you need to sign better players than those you have. Whatever tier you are at currently. The better the players you can obtain, the better your club will get over time.
If you want to avoid your club stalling, you need to recycle your players, no matter how good, with players of a similar quality. If they retire at your club, it will be more costly to replace them and you are working with limited resources.
And if you want to buy top potential players and train them yourself, you need to get in higher club rating tiers and get better coaches. You won't be able to train even a 90s fixed attributes player to the level of the top clubs while you are at 4321 club rating.
It looks an impossible puzzle to crack and it is why there are so many variations in how to approach the game. You can invest in expensive old players who will bring good results in the short term, or you can try to build your way up gradually by filling your squad with 50 rated players first, then 60, etc. Or you can try to rely on the academy and ignore the market.
Neither of these will be optimal to rely on altogether, and none of these should be ignored. They are all tools you can use and offer different value in different situations. What you are looking for is balance.
I'll give you a very simplified blueprint for one of the possible strategies when building a club from scratch. It is not the only way to go, and it is never that simple.
- Evaluate your resources. Whether you are freshly appointed at the club, or you have been there for a while, you will have assets - money in the bank, players you can sell, expenses you can cut. Optimize your income and expenses. Keep optimizing them at all times. Evaluate your squad age and consider focusing on replacing or at least selling very old players who won't be playing for more than 1 or 2 seasons first.
- Build a side that can be competitive on the pitch. The players with most impact are a goalkeeper and a striker, since you only need one of each to get optimal preview scores. Obtaining those may require reshaping your resources by selling players or accumulating bank funds. This matters a lot because league position is also an important factor in shaping club rating, and results in the cups will also deliver more funds to spend. If you have stalled and can't acquire the resources you need to spend in order to compete, don't panic. It takes more time to get out of this situation, but it is possible. And if things get real messy or you don't want to patiently wait for seasons, you can always start at a fresh club and try to do better.
- Improve the side you can field - with a balanced mix of potential and current ability. This may involve signing older players on long contracts (who you can still sell in a couple seasons), or younger players with huge potential, who cost a lot. Keep doing this and recycling your squad with transfers until you reach a healthy average age and you can support financially replacing any old players with similar quality younger players. The focus of this balance should be on growing your club rating to the next tiers. It may require signing more older players, or it may allow you to afford more younger ones to train them up gradually.
- Hitting the higher tiers will get harder and harder. You will require a very strong mix of young/older players to hit 5501-6500 and 6501-7500 tiers (and by the time you are there you will definitely know what you are doing). Hitting those tiers usually means you have little to no room for subpar players under 70 or even 80 potential. Yes, this means your entire squad should be built of players of this ability... or better. You can't do that if you ignore the market for too long, and you can't generate the income to support spending on these players if you don't recycle your players at all times. On the other hand, the more players you recycle and the quicker you do it, the larger spending power you will build over time. Trust me, if you have the patience, drive and stamina to do this, you will get the hang of it.
What matters most if you want to build a truly top club is to avoid putting a limitation to your plans. The market is cruel, the big clubs have huge resources, all good players cost a fortune... but it is possible to get a top player despite all of this. And then another one. The more top players you sign, the closer you are to getting up there. The more stop-gap players you sign, the harder it is. The more you hold onto average to decent players without improving them, the more likely it becomes the potential of your club stops growing and stalls.