Those readers who follow me on Twitter (@afmoldtimer) will possibly already know that I’ve been keeping a record of the finances in my Southampton save. As someone with a background in finance and a degree in Economics, it’s probably no surprise to anyone that I have focussed on and enjoyed writing about player/team data within Football Manager, and now finances.
The Twitter threads that I posted for 2022-23, 2023-24, 2024-25, 2025-26 are here on the excellent Thread Reader app site. The latter thread is particularly detailed, as evidenced by some of the charts below, where I went into a deeper dive across a five-year timeframe to compare, essentially how it started and how it’s going. If you are interested in how to collate this data, keep reading:
You might be wondering why I’ve gone to this level of trouble taking note of all this data. Well, have you ever wondered just how much your club is spending on its youth academy to generate its (so-called) talent? If each and every one of the youth intake for a number of years isn’t good enough for your first team, using a data-driven approach to support this might be indicative that you may need to encourage the board to spend more on youth coaching or youth facilities to improve the quality of youngsters you can attract and their current/potential abilities. Or, more likely, you need to sack your Head of Youth Development and replace them with a better candidate.
Perhaps you’re curious as to just how much cash you’ve generated in net transfer spend by signing wonderkids and selling them for a profit? Many of us take this approach when playing the game, taking on a smaller team to sign talents before developing them and selling them on. Just how good at this are you? And how much extra are you able to generate in gate receipts, season ticket sales, merchandising, and match day income as the crowds flock to see your side play?
Convinced? I thought so.
Cash is king…
I made a decision at the end of the first year of my save to record the cash inflows and outflows of the club on a spreadsheet so I could track the impacts of the player trading and the side effects of any improvements in onfield developments. I then played ahead for another year and did the same at the end of the next season. I purposefully recorded this at the end of the season, when the finance period ended, so that I had a direct comparison between full financial years, comparing like-for-like. This happens in Football Manager when the inbox comes up with the new sponsorship deals, best shirt sales, etc.
At this point, should you wish to do the same, you need to record the cash inflows and outflows of the now previous season as the game will have ticked over into the new financial year.
This is rather simple – if you use a dual-screen setup, simply type across the inflows/outflows into the cash inflow/outflow list under the relevant title/year. Should you, like me, use a laptop, you’ll need to tab in and out of Football Manager to your spreadsheet.
To make this easier for you, I’ve created a base template using Google Sheets that is free to use. Click here for the Google Sheet, click ‘File’, ‘Download’ and then select the option to download it as a ‘Microsoft Excel’ file, where you will be able to edit it (once enabling this option in Excel). Should you prefer to work in Google Sheets, you’ll need to download as per the above and then re-upload the Excel sheet into Google Sheets.
The first thing you will need to do at the very start of your save (or if you so choose, at the end of a financial year in a save you’ve already started) is to record the opening bank balance that you find in the Finances tab. Put this into the Opening Balance. It’s imperative that you do this to record the amount of the cash that your club started with at the end of the season. Miss this – everything else won’t work. If you do choose to use this part way through your save, only record the Opening Balance at the start of the new financial year and wait another twelve months to record all the inflows and outflows that have happened over that time in the same column in the relevant constituent part.
It’s worth noting that the various different elements of cash inflows and outflows vary across league systems. I know for a fact that Germany’s finance page differs from that of the Premier League. Therefore, you will need to adjust the titles of the various elements of the cash flow to reflect what’s relevant to your team/league. For reference, the provided Google Sheet is set up for the Premier League.
The spreadsheet is set up to automatically calculate the percentage change for the first two years and the changes in the actual sums for the first two years. However, you’ll need to adjust those formulae in those columns as the years progress to show the change year on year.
The same isn’t true of the far end of this tab – this section calculates the percentage of the specific cash inflow/outflow relative to that of the total cash inflows/outflows. This is a good tool to see how reliant your club is on player sales for cash generation, or how much you’re spending on player acquisitions relative to your other inflows.
Another automated part of the spreadsheet is the net transfer spend for each of the first five years, along with cumulate net transfer spend for the first five years too. This is set up to read the relevant information from the right cells, so there should be nothing to do here but enter the raw data into the cash inflow and outflows. I’ve also popped in another automated calculation for player spending as a proportion of total income – I’ve taken player wages, bonuses, and loyalty bonuses. This is useful to track to ensure that you have a balance between wage expenditure and income to ensure that you don’t end up like Bournemouth, Leicester, and QPR who have all been clubs with wage expenditure greater than income. To give you some idea of what to look out for, UEFA recommends a ratio of no more than 70% wages/income.
If you do decide to download the Google Sheet and use it as an Excel spreadsheet, after at least two years of data collection, you could create a PivotChart (Inset, PivotChart, Enter) (note that a PivotTable option isn’t available in Google Sheets, although PivotCharts are). The set-up you’d need to have to make the PivotChart work is shown below:
You can use the provided filter to select the area that you want to directly highlight, as shown by the graphs I provided above to show the youth setup and merchandising.
You’ll also notice that there’s an additional set of tabs available for you, one of which says ‘Amortisation’.
This tab enables you to calculate the player amortisation for any player acquisitions you make on your save, or indeed of the squad you’ve inherited. If you want to stick to a realistic approach as to how football finance actually works, then this is the tab for you.
Amortisation is an accounting term that is how assets are written down over time, similar to depreciation. In the case of player acquisitions (i.e. buying a player), the cost is (typically) broken down over the duration of a player’s contract.
For example, Liverpool signed Kostas Tsimikas from Olympiakos for a reported £11m. That £11m fee will have been amortised over his five-year contract – effectively, the cost of the transfer fee will be divided by five since that’s how many years he could be expected to be at Liverpool. Liverpool will book the amortisation charge of £2.2m each year in their accounts either until his contract expires (at which point his book value would be £0), he’s sold (where they will take the value of the sale and minus this from his remaining book value (literally the accounting value to the club that’s left)), or when he signs a new deal (more on how this works below).
If at any stage, a new contract were to be agreed upon, the amortisation charge needs to be adjusted to reflect the length of the new deal. This is taken care of by some calculations in some hidden columns, and by entering in the details of the year in which the new contract was agreed and the number of years that the new contract is to span over. Thanks to Ben Philip on Twitter for helping me solve an issue I had with this.
To give you an idea of what a completed Amortisation tab should look like, I’ve provided a completed version below for my Southampton save:
Profit is prince…
In the next part, working out the remaining book value of the squad is also taken care of for you in the next tab ‘Squad Book Value’. This takes the data you’ve entered into the Amortisation tab and brings across the player’s name and remaining book value. The reason this is important is that this helps you to calculate the true accounting profit/loss of your player trading. This is what team clubs really care about, not net transfer spending. The reason they care about this is that this helps drive the available transfer funds that a club can offer its manager to spend in the market, helping to explain why Everton could only afford to bring in one player on a fee last year in real life (Demarai Gray – ~£1.8m) – they had to take huge player amortisation charges, and also write-downs (where an asset is declared less valuable than it was previously recorded as, usually because of an issue with that asset, which in Everton’s case was that their players weren’t as good as they had originally thought they were).
When a club amortises, this is reflected in its balance sheet. At this point, I’d love to be able to show you how balance sheets work in Football Manager, but I’m afraid there are huge gaps of knowledge, e.g. in terms of values of fixed assets and equity to be able to put one together, so this is not possible to replicate.
However, tracking the remaining squad book value is useful, especially when considering who to sell to help balance the books with regard to FFP (or Profit and Sustainability rules in real life). This is because if you sell a player for more than his remaining book value, that will be the profit that will go into the club’s accounts. Sell a player for less than their remaining book value and you’ll be recording a loss on your profit and loss account (again, not possible to show in Football Manager).
If your club is set to fail FFP, it’s important to know which player could be sold to tip the balance to avoid fines/being banned from European football. This is why I’ve created this final tab. You will need to have the remaining book value of each of the players in your squad (including any youth players). Any players that have come through your youth intake will have a book value of £0 (or equivalent currency) as they have directly cost your club nothing in player transfer fees. This is why for ‘Man UFC’, both Marcus Rashford and Scott McTominay have a £0 book value – not because they’re worthless to the club, but because they have a £0 acquisition value.
Once you’ve inputted the players in your squad into the Amortisation tab, it will then automatically populate the remaining book values into the second column. To calculate the potential profit for the club, you will need to input the bid that’s been made for your player into the third column which will then see the fourth column automatically populate the book profit for your club. The bottom of this column will then self-populate the total profit from player sales. Note – this is not the profit from player trading – after all, it does not take into account the player acquisition costs.
Instead, I’ve added an extra column in the Amortisation tab for you to identify the new signings you have made for your club within the financial year. A simple Y in that column will suffice, which triggers a sum of all base transfer fees that you have spent on players in that year and then deducts the booked profit that you have made from selling players. This is the true reflection of profits from player trading.
Again, to give you an idea of what this will look like once you’ve inputted your player data, here is my Southampton save again:
After that financial year has ended, record the profit/loss from player trading (by all means create another tab for this), and then go back to the Amortisation tab to delete any players that you’ve since sold, so that you can reset your spreadsheet, and update any new contracts as you go along. This will have the spreadsheet ready to go for the next financial year when you can start adding in new players that you’ve acquired.
If you have any questions about any of the above – and I suspect quite a few will – feel free to contact me on Twitter – @afmoldtimer – or leave a comment on this post.