Football Manager 17 Includes A Brexit Simulator

Football Manager [official site] is not a political game. I recall being extremely surprised when the 2022 World Cup was relocated to Argentina from Qatar in my first playthrough of last year’s edition. Given reports about the bidding process and the feasibility of hosting the tournament there, as well as more troubling stories, I wondered what the reasons for the move were in the fictional future of the game. Turns out, it might simply be a case of Sports Interactive not wanting to rewrite the calendar for a winter World Cup.

But they’ve been rewriting a lot of code for another political event. Football Manager 2017 will simulate several possible Brexit scenarios.

Brexit, should you be unaware of the term, is not a breakfast cereal. That would be a weird thing to include in a Football Manager game. Brexit is act of the UK (Britain is the ‘Br’) leaving the European Union, which is now a very real possibility following a referendum in favour of the move that took place earlier this year. The UK government still has to trigger the exit and negotiate terms, but it seems increasingly likely that it will happen sooner rather than later.

The reason for the inclusion of Brexit in FM is that it could have a real effect on management of football clubs. It’s all tied in to work visas and the definition of homegrown players and it’s probably been an absolute pain to implement given that the outcome is still uncertain. The solution Sports Interactive chose was to make the outcome within the game as uncertain as it is in real life.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, studio head Miles Jacobson explained:

“The first option for the game was to have just one scenario and that would be it, Brexit done, but it’s not possible to come out with one outcome and it won’t be until all the negotiations are done.

“As a result we’ve decided to go down another route, and have included every possible outcome in the game, using artificial intelligence and percentage chances to make every game different.”

Between two and ten years after the start of the game, trade negotiations will begin and from there three main scenarios can unfold. A soft Brexit will retain rules regarding free movement of workers, a hard Brexit will impose similar restrictions as exist on non-EU players on all players with non-UK citizenship. The third option results in little change, with free movement gone but footballers reclassified as entertainers, to make work permits more easily obtainable.

Hard Brexit has serious implications for managers in the UK though. The points system for non-EU players that would apply to all non-UK players encourages massive expenditure to secure star players from abroad. The knock-on effect could even see the Premier League drop down the global rankings as it struggles to attract top players.

“There is also the option that sees us adopt a system like Italy’s, where there is a limit on the number of non-EU players in each squad. The limit of non-UK players that British clubs are allowed could range from anything as high as 17 to as low as four.

“If you only had four non-UK players per squad, that’s going to make things difficult. All of a sudden Championship-quality players are moving into the Premier League to fill up slots. That could mean the overall quality drops, and that means the TV money goes down.

“Meanwhile, transfer fees go up: foreign players are worth more to British clubs because you need to make sure you make the most of those four slots, and the best British players become more valuable, and so more expensive, too.

And there are even more extreme possibilities, with a very small chance that non-UK players will be forced to apply for work permits to remain in the country the day after Brexit. There are even triggers for independence referendums within the UK.

I love Football Manager’s simulation of a world around football almost as much as I love all of the tactical tinkering so this is catnip to me. You can read more in the Telegraph’s interview and if you’ve preordered the game through an authorised retailer (that include Steam), the beta should be available later today. If you’re still on the fence, which is wise at this point, take a look at the run-down of new features in the game.


  1. eoin says:

    Arguably, they’re better prepared than anyone else.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      It’s funny because it’s true. It’s quite remarkable how after nearly four months, the UK government is still completely unable to say what it even wants. Then the poor people at SI would at least be able to cut a few options.

      • Apologised says:

        “What it wants” with the exception of a cancerous cabal of disenfranchised backbenchers and several two faced pedagogues who used them to topple at least one prime minister already, is to not have to do Brexit at all.

        The Conservative party have spent a full thirty years pushing the importance of london as a european banking hub, started by Thatcher and perpetuated wholeheartedly by subsequent leaders including during New Labours period. Brexit is going to require a new economic direction of such sharp severity that Scotland may get thrown off during the swerve.
        NOBODY in Westminster got what they wanted going into the Referendum. Cameron lost his job, Boris failed to pick it up, and Gove got completely ostracised over backstabbing the above. Theresa May certainly wasn’t expecting to have the job, let alone so soon.

        The ONLY people to get what they want was The North of England, who have been waiting three fucking decades to screw the south, and the Tories in particular for closing down northern industry in it’s near entirety and creating at least two lost generations.
        For them, this Brexit is going great.

        • number2301 says:

          I don’t think it’s at all fair to characterise Brexit as the fault of the North, Leeds was a slim majority for remain, alongside one or two other cities. It was basically only the cities who voted remain.

          • Apologised says:

            Which does pose the question, what have the villages got against the EU? The villages whose farmers receive EU subsidies they need to survive, the Villages who probably get more unthinking missives from the Tory Government than they do from the EU, what do they think a Brexit is going to give them?

        • Jediben says:

          Yeah, them and 52% of people that cared enough to vote.

  2. BlitzThose says:

    Except maybe the SNP :P

  3. napoleonic says:

    Are they also going to simulate the collapse of the pound, from $1.55 a year ago to under $1.25 today?

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      I doubt the US dollar rate makes much difference to football, but the pound/euro rate probably gets more of a workout when hiring players from abroad etc. I guess it all comes down to if they model currency fluctuations in game. If they do it wouldn’t just be influenced by brexit, a hypothetical collapse in the Italian economy could lead to Italian players being very cheap on the transfer market for example.
      In fact, you’ve convinced me, if it’s not there already they should simulate global economics.

      • aldo_14 says:

        I think US$ rate would impact sponsorship deals if not player purchases/wages, at least. i.e. if your kit is made by Nike, sponsored by a US company, all that jazz.

  4. distantlurker says:

    Guaranteed column inches in the national press.

    Well played.

  5. Laurentius says:


  6. Shuck says:

    Based on the headline, I was assuming there was a “Brexit” button like the “disaster” button in the Sim City games…

    • Mi-24 says:

      It’s actually implemented as an added difficulty mode that randomly devalues your currency and spouts insults about france over your screen every 3 seconds.

    • gingerbill says:

      or it might be labelled ‘ click here for freedom and not to be ruled by Germany ‘

      • TaylanK says:

        Or “Click here to replace all match highlights with brexit highlights”

        “Cameron gives the ball away to Brexiters.”
        “Farage dribbles past Merkel and into the box…”
        “Faraga passes the ball to Johnson…”
        “Weird goalmouth scramble involving Farage, Johnson and Gove…. aaaand…”
        “It’s an own goal.”

        • Mi-24 says:

          and Theresa May has magically teleported onto the pitch and taken over as team captain.

      • theirongiant says:

        For the target audience that sort of message would be best relayed using pictures rather than words.

  7. Jediben says:

    I wonder what % chance that screenshot has been calculated as having? Real life I would say 5000/1.

    • lglethal says:

      Yep your right. There’s absolutley no chance of them allowing existing foreign players to remain without a visa!

      • KDR_11k says:

        Considering they’re rich people and all of this immigration talk is only about the rabble I don’t think it would apply to them either way.

  8. ROMhack2 says:

    That’s a nice touch.

    Speaking of which, I started playing FM 2010 the other day and have been having a blast despite it being completely out of date.

    I haven’t been able to get on with the in-depthness of the new FM games since becoming a fully grown adult with some (not a lot) of personal responsibilities.

    Last time I bought the game, Classic Mode only allowed you to select 3 nations.

  9. Koozer says:

    I want a sim game in this vein that doesn’t involve the most boring sport in the world.

    • AimHere says:

      Then go for Out of the Park Baseball, which does the same job for American Stickball. With two sports to choose from, at least one of them isn’t the most boring sport.

      (Anyways, neither are the most boring sports. There’s plenty of outlets for strategy and skullduggery and player interaction in both games. The most boring sport in the world is going to be either golf or darts – single-player, turn-based racing games, whose competitiveness is purely in the fact that two people take the same, dull, single-player skilltest concurrently)