How to use a Salary Cap

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. Making money in Football Manager can be done in various ways.


Selling players for example is a section on which you could earn a lot of money with. But the best way of saving and earning money is by using a tight wage structure at your club. In this guide we will try to explain how you can use and manage a salary 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. 



First of all you will need to learn the set-up of your own squad. What kind of players do you have and what kind of structure is in the squad. Look at the Team Status of the players and simply write down the number of Key Players, First Team Players, Rotation Players and Back-ups. Ideally you should be having the following outcome:

  • Key Players: 4x - These guys are always first you put on your squad sheet and are the stars of the team
  • First Team Players: 7x - This group will normally start, but aren't considered as stars
  • Rotation/Back-up: 12x - The biggest group of players. This will be mostly reserves and hot prospects.

That way you will have a squad of 23 players, which is large enough to handle even the biggest injury problems during the season. Dividing the squad in this manner, you are able to implement a Salary Cap and then uphold that philosophy during the seasons.



Now you know what kind of players you have in your squad, it is time to divide the Wage Budget. In this Guide we will use an example wage budget of €1.000.000 per year. In your budget you will reserve a total of 30% for every single group. If you do this correctly you will have the following:

  • Key Players: 30%
  • First Team Players: 30%
  • Rotation/Back-up: 30%

The remaining 10% of your Wage Budget will be reserved for your Youth and Reserve teams. In terms of money €300.000 (30% of 1.000.000) will be available for every single group, and your Youth/Reserve team will receive a total of €100.000 to spend on their wages. See the following graph:





Ok, so now we have explained that you need to split your squad into 3 groups and then explained how should you divide your wage budget over the three different groups (30% each). So your next step will be calculating the maximum Wage for the players in every single group.


Starting with the Key Players: In an ideal squad you will have a maximum of 4 players with the status Key Player. Translating that in terms of wages you use the following formula:


Formula: Total Money available per Group divided by the total amount of players in that group = Max wage per player.


If you apply this formula on the Key Players group you will get the following:


€ 300.000 / 4 Key Players = € 75.000 per player


So, if we continue this formula for all the groups you will get the following formulas and outcome:


  • Key Players: € 300.000 / 4 = € 75.000
  • First Team: € 300.000 / 7 = € 42.857
  • Rotation/Back-up: € 300.000 / 12 = € 25.000
  • Youth and reserves 10% of € 1.000.000 = €100.000


To sum up: A Key Player's maximum Wage is € 75.000, a First Team Player's maximum wage is € 42.857 and a Rotation/Back-up Player's maximum wage is € 25.000. The remaining € 100.000 is reserved for your Youth and Reserve team. As seen in the following graph:





Ok, by the time you are reading this you must have a basic idea of how to work with a wage structure or salary cap, or at least what it means to your team and what each group or individual player in your team can earn.


The next thing you will have to do is write on a piece of paper the way your squad is build: Which players are considered Key Players, which players are seen as First Team Players and which ones are your Back-ups. Having this on a list will make it much easier to spot the set-up of your squad. It will show you directly which group is too big or too small. For example you have 6 Key Players, which is too much or you have 6 Back-ups, which is too little.



After you have written down the list and have a good view of the available players, it is time to draw a conclusion. Which players are earning wages which matches their qualities and which players are earning too much? Making this conclusion brings the tricky part of applying the salary cap: these players either accept a lower wage or they will have to leave the club. It is as simple as that.


Forcing out players who earn too much money could be very difficult, especially if you are left with players who have less quality. The results you get could drop a bit, but in the long term you could benefit from the Salary Cap.



After each season it will be time to review the performances of your players. Which players did perform and which players did not perform? Every summer you will have to decide what will happen to the players who failed to perform. Will they be sold or will you give them another chance? Good thing about selling these players is the possibility to 'promote' a player who did perform to a different group:



A player from the category Back Up has surprised you during the season. This player managed to win a spot in the starting eleven and made a good impression. You will have the opportunity to reward that player by promoting him to another group. That will mean the player is given a new contract and a higher wage.


And the players who failed to impress could be sold. The money you earn by selling these players could be then invested in improving your squad or bringing in some young and talented players on low wages.



If you keep your finances under control, your overal balance will improve during the years. Having a better financial situation, will automatically mean you will be able to improve your Wage Structure. If you improve your structure, you will be able to pay higher wages and therefore attract higher rated players. Higher rated players could bring better performances and better performances will bring you even more money.




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