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How to use a wage cap in Football Manager

Lazy Nov 9, 2020 Last modified: 19 Aug 28,421 views

This guide will learn you how to use a wage cap in Football Manager.

The financial part of Football Manager is one side that needs a lot of attention if you want to seriously improve it during your career, especially if you are trying to build a club from the bottom towards the top. One of the best ways to keep a tight budget is using a wage structure or wage cap.

In this guide I will try to explain how you can use and manage a wage cap for your squad. It is not that hard to use and install at your club. The only hard part for this part of your finances is making no exceptions and keep holding onto your philosophy. 

Step 1: Learn your squad

First of all you will need to learn more about your own squad. What kind of players do you have and how are the squad statuses? Now simply write down the number of key players, first team players, rotation players and back-ups/youth players you have in the first squad.

Ideally you want to have a total of 23 (or maximum of 26 players). A squad size of 23 is large enough to make it through a long and hard season.

Step 2: Create 3 groups

Next up is dividing the squad into 3 groups. These groups will be needed to implement the wage cap at your club.

The three groups are:

  • Key Players - In an ideal squad you will have several star or key players. These are the Ronaldo's or Lionel Messi's of your team
  • First Team Players - The first team players are the ones that are generally in the starting eleven, but could occasionally be used as a rotation player.
  • Backups - Behind the 'starters' you have a group of backups or reserves. These are either players who aren't good enough to be a regular starter or young players who have only just made it into the first team.

Step 3: Total players per group

Now that we have explained the three different groups of players at your club, it is time to split them even further and determine how many players each group should ideally have.

Key Players: 4
In an ideal squad you will have a maximum of 4 players with the status Key Player. You don't want to many captains on your ship right?

First Team: 7
To complete your starting eleven you have a total of 7 First Team Players. As we said earlier these are the players who will be regular starters, but they will also be the first ones to be taken off the pitch when you either need to rotate or make a substitution.

Backups: 12
The rest of the squad will be the backups. Like we said: these are players who will be on the bench most of the time and will be used as replacements in times of a busy schedule or an injury.

Now take a piece of paper and create three columns for the three players groups and simply write down the names of the players that fit in the groups.

Step 4: Wage percentage per group

The next step in applying a wage cap in Football Manager is deciding how high the wage cap is and how high the maximum player wages are.

To explain how the formula works we will be using a wage budget of €1.000.000 (1 million).

Earlier we split up the squad into three groups. The total wage budget will be divided over these three groups. Each group will be allowed to earn a maximum of 30% of the total wage budget. In terms of money that is €300.000 per group.

The three groups added together earn a total of 90% of your wage budget (or €900.000). The remaining 10% (or €100.000) will be used to pay wages for the players in your Youth Team (U21 or U19 squad).

To sum up the groups:

  • Key Players > 30% > € 300.000
  • First Team > 30% > € 300.000
  • Backups > 30% > € 300.000
  • Youth players > 10% > € 100.000

Step 5: Maximum wage per player

In the previous steps you have divided the team into three groups, marked players as key players, first team players or backups and now you will be calculating the maximum wages for single players in the groups.

The formula is very basic and easy to apply. It is:

Total money per group / amount of players in that group = Max wage per player.

Key Players

If you apply this formula on the Key Players group (max 4 players) you will have:

€300.000 / 4 Key Players = €75.000 per player

This means that a single key player at your club is allowed to earn a maximum of 75.000 in wages.

First Team

€300.000 / 7 First Team Players = € 42.850 per player


€300.000 / 11 Backups = € 27.250 per player

Step 6: Comparing situations

By the time you are reading this, you must have a basic idea on how the wage cap structure works and how to apply it in Football Manager. You have now created three groups and calculated the maximum wages a full group or individual is allowed to earn.

Now you are getting that piece of paper back again (or use a program like Excel or Google Spreadsheets). You will now use it to really decide which players are the ones you consider as Key Players, which are First Team Players and which ones are the Backups. Write them down and put them in the corresponding groups.


The next thing you do is compare your own vision on the squad with the actual situation (step 1). Big chances are there are several differences and you could end up with having 6 key players or only 8 backups.

Step 7: Make decisions!

Now it is time to really make decisions. Who are in the wrong group and more importantly: who are receiving way too much money each month?

Change squad statuses and offer players new contracts with lower wages. Aren't they prepared to meet your demands or accept your decision? Sell them! The thing is; a maximum wage cap is a maximum wage cap. If a player earns too much he will either have to accept lower wages or leave the club. It is as simple as that.


Forcing players out of the club is tricky as this could lead into the squad being unhappy or you being stuck with lower quality players. But hey, we are aiming at a financially healthy club and are in this for the long run right!

So, be strong, force decisions and keep fighting. If you apply the wage cap correctly in Football Manager you will win trophies while sitting on a pile of money!

Step 8: Reviewing performances

After the season has ended you will have to review your squad and the player performances to keep your wage cap in good health.

Failing to impress

Which players failed to impress? After each season you will review the team and decide what will happen to the players who failed to perform. Will they receive a second chance, do they drop a group (and possibly drop in wages) or do you sell them?

Selling players sounds harsh. But, think about the money you receive in transfer fees. You could re-invest that money in other players or even talented youth players on low wages.

Reward those who perform

Then you also have to consider to reward the players who have been performing admirably. Is there a Backup player who has impressed enough to be promoted to the First Team group? Or has one of the First Team players been impressing enough to earn the status of Key Player? The wage cap is a living structure and could change every season.

Step 9: Improving the cap

If you run a tight game on wages, you will eventually see an improvement on your finances. Improved finances will increase your total wage budget. A higher budget will mean you can offer higher wages and therefore attract higher rated players.

Higher rated players bring better performances and better performances will bring you even more money. It really is a circle and will never stop to change.

To close

After reading this guide you will have a good view on how to apply a working wage cap in your Football Manager save. Keep in mind that a wage cap can only work if you follow the rules and keep following them. Sometimes you will have to make a hard decision, but if you really want this to work you have to follow the rules.


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