Football Manager has secured the Bundesliga license


Gary Lineker once summed football up as neatly as anyone ever has: “Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.” Lineker was wrong, of course. The goalkeepers rarely chase the ball.

The quote is even more inaccurate when applied to Football Manager [official site]. There, football is a simple game where twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, an alternate universe, corrupted copy of the Germans always wins. Football Manager, you see, has not had access to the Bundesliga license for many years, which means if you want official team and player names, you need a mod. Starting in 2018/19 and for the four seasons (presumably with possibility of an extension) following, Sega will have an official German license as well.

Licensing in football is complex and I imagine it’s very expensive. I have to imagine because licensing fees have not been released, but judging by the price of my Sky Sports package, the price of a beer at Old Trafford and the cash being flung around in the current transfer window, I suspect there might be quite a bit of money involved in all things football. This new deal allows Sega to use the Bundesliga license for one management game (that’d be Football Manager) and Konami have secured a similar deal. The terms of the agreement state “management simulation” on Konami’s part as well, so maybe this’ll be for a mobile PES game rather than the proper release.

If that’s the case, it’s probably related to EA’s overall control of the license when it comes to all things console and PC. They’ve been Bundesliga’s gaming partner since 1998 and “match simulation will remain exclusively in its hands” until the 2021/22 season at the earliest. Obviously, a management game does some “match simulation” as well, but I’m taking that to mean the kind of fully-controlled FIFA- and PES-like match engines.

Although it won’t be present in this year’s Football Manager release, the Bundesliga coming back to management is a good thing, particularly for German players. The game isn’t even officially available to buy in Germany at the moment. I haven’t been able to verify yet, but I reckon this means Football Manager 2019/2020 will be available through Steam (or whatever Steam has become by then) in Germany.


  1. Brinx says:

    To expand on that a litte bit:
    The players in the Bundesliga were always in FM and assigned to the correct teams. The main licensing issue was the names of the league (but a lot of leagues are just called premier division or first division in FM anyway, probably due to simmilar issues), the names of teams (which was a minor issue since they for example called Borussia Dortmund just ‘Dortmund’ or Bayern München ‘Bayern’. Sometimes it gets a little bit weird though. 1860 München is called ‘München Lions’ or 1. FSV Frankfurt ‘Frankfurt Ehrlenbruch’ or something like that), and the German national team which was simply not available or more correctly filled with fake, otherwise non-existing players. All of these things were easily corrected through fan patches. And I mean really easily, SI thankfully didn’t even try to make it hard in any way. It’s as simple as removing a folder in the case of the national team and as simple as unzipping a name pack from the internet in all other cases.

    Not being able to buy it through Steam or retail thankfully never was a problem as well, since the keys were not region-locked. So you could buy a key through gamesplanet or greenmangaming and activate it on Steam.

    The problems existed because EA held the exclusive rights in Germany. They produced a (compared to FM horrible) game called FIFA Manager for a while (link to, but it was discontinued after the 13/14 season.

    • dsch says:

      The other thing about the lack of the national team license was that German players at your clubs never got called up for international duty. This was great because you can promise a player/club lots of money after x-number of international appearances and never have to pay up.

  2. Cederic says:

    Given that FM17 continued the inherently broken morale system that left it impossible to recover from a single player being unhappy, and the FM forums banned people for daring to suggest some alternative approaches for managing this, fuck SI Games and fuck their long running football management simulation.

    Over the years I’ve bought a dozen variants and they’ve lost me as a customer. Their 2018 can include the under 15 girls league in the border regions of Kashmir and I’m still not giving them my money. People that release an inherently broken game and refuse to accept valid criticism can fuck off.

    • dsch says:

      The moderating on that forum is basically North Korea. You kind of get the feeling that attitude is company wide under Miles, which explains the direction the series has been going in recent years.

    • Zamn10210 says:

      I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t want such calm and reasoned criticism on their forums.

  3. sfury says:

    Lineker was wrong, of course. The goalkeepers rarely chase the ball.

    He’s definitely right about German goalkeepers though – link to