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How to use a wage 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. 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. Use this in combination with our Making Money in FM guide and you will be swimming in money soon!


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.

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 wage 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 Budget. For our example we will be using a wage budget of 1.000.000 per year.

In your budget you will be reserving a total of 30% for every single group.

Ok, so now we have explained that you need to split your squad into 3 groups and then explained how should you divide your budget for your wage cap over the three different groups (30% each). 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 on the right.


Total group money / 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

Meaning, your key players will have a maximum wage of 75.000 a year.

If we continue to use the formula on all the groups we have selected earlier, we will have:






Meaning: a player who is considered to be a back up player in your squad, has a maximum yearly wage of 25.000. Whilst a First team player has the chance of earning a maximum of 42.857 a year.
The amount of 100.000 can be spread over all the players in your youth squad (for example U21 of U19). There will be no variations in wages for these teams, so the only thing you will have to remember is to keep the total of all these wages inside the 100.000 margin.


Ok, by the time you are reading this you must have a basic idea of how to work with a wage structure or wage 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 Regulars and which ones are 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 only 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 that match their qualities and which players are earning too much?

Making this conclusion brings the most tricky part of applying a wage cap. These players either accept a lower wage or they will have to leave the club. It is as simple as that. And those decisions could lead into Lionel Messi being forced out of Barcelona for example.

And forcing players like that out of your club is hard, very hard. You will be stuck with players that have less quality, which could lead into a drop in results. But keep on fighting. In the long run, you will be sitting on money, winning every possible trophy.


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 and upgrade your wage cap. 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.


  1. Where do you find the wage budget for just the players?
    Is the wage-budget that is shown on the finances-page not including the staff-wages?


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