#FM15: To The Top! 4.4 -The Higher Tempo Way

Welcome back to the blog and the To The Top! series. As you’ll recall from the previous post we departed AFC Bolnore and decided to take over Saint Ives Town FC in the Regional First divisions above the Counties Leagues.

I said in the last update that the team was in an absolute mess and I wanted to set up some goals for the next while in charge of the team and see if we can un-FUBAR this place a bit.

In the last update I mentioned that our club was deep into the red, we had a loan that the club was unlikely to be able to pay off with the way the money was going, and we were over-budget and under-staffed both in the backroom and on the playing field. I’m at a team that would be the kind of challenge Chris Darwen would probably orgasm over, and we need to set things towards straight.

This update won’t contain any gameplay or match updates, we’re just here to write out in detail what my objectives are and attempt to balance our books while making the club competitive for the near future.

This post will be broken down into a couple of sections. First, we’re going to cover the books.

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As you can see, the club has only been in the black twice in the whole save, and they started this season in debt. The club has an outstanding bank loan of £55K.

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The club’s wage budget, as you can see, is over budget. Not by much, but we really shouldn’t be over budget anyway, and if I want to rebuild the club, we really need to be living within our means.

What does that entail? As you’ll recall from the last post, I shared a link to Darwen’s Higher Tempo blog about balancing the books. Darwen’s line of thought is that he wants the club’s gate receipts to be able to cover the player’s wages in full.

I’m thinking that if I can, using his methods, determine what my weekly wage budget for the season needs to be to fall within gate receipts income, then the rest will eventually sort itself out eventually.

When balancing our books, for the purposes of the “real” wage budget that I’ll have available to work with, I’ll figure in my ticket income by taking an average attendance of the last several seasons and multiply that by the average ticket price (£7). Assuming an average attendance for match day, that will be my projected gate income for that match, which I’ll multiply by 21, which is the number of home matches I’ll play in the regular league season and get gate income from..

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As we see here, these are the average figures. We’re not at the midpoint of the season yet, so I don’t consider the current attendance average to be final, but since it’s near the average figure, let’s assume that’s the final number for the sake of example.

Our average attendance per match, after adding up these seasons in this division’s low-end of the table and dividing by four came out to 199.5 – 200 average attendants per match.I do want to point out that Darwen wouldn’t average the prior season numbers, he tends to base them more off the current year’s numbers plus educated guesses for promotion. However, since we’ve been sitting in the same rut for years in the league with some higher attendances and the super low average, I decided to get the average of them instead of using the last season’s as the baseline, because I wanted to be a little tighter and account for a potential relegation battle or being below the attendance of the previous year by too much. And, the financial predicament we’re in contributed to me finding an average instead of using the highest number, so that we can do our best to work towards being in the black.

Multiply that by £7, and we are projected to see gate income of £1,400 per home match. Multiply that estimated income by 21 home matches, and our annual home gate income for the regular season is projected to be £29,400. We will multiply the season ticket price (£90) by 47 season ticket holders to come up with £4,200 in additional guaranteed income from the preseason ticket sale and we will add that to the total sum of income from home gate receipts before dividing by 52 weeks in a year.

Our “real” wage budget, as covered by gate receipts alone will come out to £646.15 per week. That’s only a fraction of what the wage budget actually is, but we’re not going to be operating in the red if I can help it. When calculating our “real” wage budget, we don’t take into account sponsorship deals, player sales, or funds injected by the board, because none of that is guaranteed income that we can predict in the long run. I also chose to omit cup fixtures, because we can’t guarantee any home matches out of them as it’s a random draw.

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These are the wages of my players and staff. We have 26 players on the roster, but these are the only ones drawing a weekly salary. The rest are non-contract, pay-to-play players, and I haven’t gone through each of their numbers and payments for this example, as we’re just talking the salaried men who will be paid whether I use them or not.

Between the four “top” players on in the club, we’re spending £770 p/w out of our £1200 wage budget (which was over-budget when I arrived if you remember).

No wonder this club is in such a poor financial state and has such poor depth and quality to the staff. Four players are eating up well over half of our minuscule wage budget from the chairman, and all four of them combined are well above our RWB that we calculated.

Considering the financial state this club is in, there will be no retaining them. I guarantee that the kind of salary cut they’d have to take would only be an insult to them, but with the club speeding towards eventual administration and my needing to rebuild the squad in general, we really need to cut anyone who can be cut to save a few pounds here and there.

If I can get our wage budget as close to £646 per week as I can, then the other matchday income, sponsorship money, player sales, gate receipts from cup matches, friendlies, and other non-guaranteed match days, etc can go towards general operating expenses and paying off the loan to the bank.

The four salaried players will be released at the end of the year with no option to have a renewed contract, and that will eliminate £770 per week from our wage budget. Next, I will review my youths, and the ones who impressed the most will be kept as potential backup options for development and the rest will be eliminated. I will have a significantly more selective intake in 2018 than usual, with only the most immediately promising looking players being taken on, and they will ride on their £5 p/w youth contracts for as long as possible with the rest not even making it out of the academy to my side. All those £5 notes add up, and every pound counts during this race to beat administration, after all.

All of those non-contract players are pay-to-play. I will negotiate as good of a deal as I can with each of the N/C players I consider worthy of keeping in the side, and I will release from the team those who won’t accept a contract I find satisfactory who who haven’t impressed me enough in the season to hold on to.

I will identify key positions in the squad to allow some kind of salary to, and I will look to make the best deals I can to minimize wage budget, with the rest being non-contract players, however when you divide 646 by 23, a typical squad size, that comes out to having about 28 quid per player per week. Some will be making less if I get a good non-contract deal or if they’re youths that I’m trying to keep on the youth contract, and some I will likely pay out a bit more to, but that’s my target goal for the weekly salary of the “average” contract player or for the “average” non-contract player .

Looking at staff, my assistant make £30 more than me and is statistically worse than me, except for in attacking, which is 20, so I plan to move him on and look for a deal on an assistant. The HOYD makes over twice as much as me, and he’s equally crap at his job, so he’s going to be gone as well. I will attempt to find a single, fairly well-rounded coach who can do a bit of everything reasonably well instead of having a large, specialized staff, and that role won’t be much more than my salary, if I can help it. The Director of Football is surplus to requirements, so he’s going as soon as his contract is out in summer, and I won’t let the Chairman try to hire a new one. The head physio and chief scout are decent enough, so if they want to renew their contracts on a similar wage to their existing ones, I’d be willing to keep them, but I may just have the one Chief Scout and no scouts under him. I really only give serious reads to opposition scout reports anyway, and I can save money if a scout isn’t traveling the UK doing who knows what on company time.

I don’t know if Darwen gets both his players and staff under the RWB total or just the players, but this new season the aim will be to have the players under the RWB, and I’ll just keep the staff wage as low as I can get it so that our salaried impact is as low as possible and so our non-contract matchday commitments per match end up below our target goal.

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This is our current squad depth, and as I showed in the last post, what’s “good” relative to the team is actually quite terrible for the league. We need to get this team into shape across the board.

We have one youth goalkeeper for both the senior and youth squads! Our defense is the most filled and deep area of the squad, but as I showed in the previous post with the link to John Paul Duncliffe’s stats, our “good” players aren’t the type I rate as up to snuff for the league.The midfield and striker departments could stand to be improved as well with Scott Sinclair as really the only good choice for the front three when I think of what my long-term goals are.

This post is the longest in the series so far, and it’s not even about matches, so I’ll just clear off now. I’ll be back in a couple of days with the next update on my save, which will actually include matches and what the “usual” content is. If you want to check out the Balancing the Books post by Chris Darwen, check the link here.

As usual, you can follow me on Twitter @EricSnowmane or follow the blog for updates on my progress with the save. If you want to review any posts from the previous seasons, check out the season-by-seasons page on the AFC Bolnore drop-menu.

I know it’s getting a bit spammy at this point, but if you use Reddit and want to see more Football Manager blogs or YouTube series, check out /r/TheManagersCorner, a new spin-off subreddit from the main /r/footballmanagergames that’s dedicated to sharing with others your blogs, video series, or other creative writing related to the Football Manager series. Why not give it a look?

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