FM Guide | Different signing strategies for big and small clubs


During any Football Manager save you want to keep improving, and one way of doing this is by signing new players to your club. This doesn’t matter what division you are in, the same rules apply. However, depending on your club, signing players may be a little harder due to a number of reasons.

I will write down several different subcategories that change depending on the size of your club and reputation. These are just a few of the categories I have noticed when trying to sign players at various levels on Football Manager.

Reputation (Club and Manager)

Image result for reputation

I hope you like this image, I think it’s pretty cool.

It goes without saying: reputation. This can also be broken down to two different sections. These are Club and Manager. Players are more likely to come to your club if your reputation as a manager is high, the same can be said about reputation as a club.

Let’s be honest. If you are an aspiring footballer and a club comes in for you playing in the fourth tier of English Football and another club in the Premier League wants you, it’s likely you will go to the Premier League club. This isn’t a direct correlation to the reputation, but typically the bigger club will have better facilities which will enhance the players ability.

It isn’t always good to have a higher reputation team though as you will come up against other hurdles, which are usually financial. The bigger the club, the more you have to spend on players/agent fee’s etc. AI clubs know you have the money so are likely to take as much of it as possible; can you blame them?!

Talent Pool

The talent pool for clubs especially with big databases is ridiculous, but as a smaller club you are limited to what you can and can’t buy. This is down to several reasons such as financial reasons, reputation, league position and continental competition status. Players often come back to offers and say that the club isn’t big enough for them, and various other reasons.

This is why at a smaller club it is much harder to find the right players because you are limited to what you can and can’t buy. This is partly down to your world knowledge which shows a percentage of the world that you know, obviously with more scouts you have more knowledge and sending scouts to certain countries will increase this knowledge.


If you are a semi professional club or amateur you can only sign players who are either based in the Nation, played in the Nation’s league or of the clubs Nationality. This means that even if you find a brilliant player you won’t be able to sign him until your professional status changes. This is something I wasn’t familiar with until The Northman pointed it out when I was doing a save last year.

Along with this, some players might not want to join your club because you can’t offer them enough money which would justify them relocating. I am sure if you were trying to sign someone for £50 a week and they were from the other side of the World, it wouldn’t be beneficial for them.

All of these depend on professional status, reputation and costs.

Fee’s & Transfer Cost

If a player is willing to join a club in a lower division and a club in the same division, the opposition club will more likely want a higher fee from a club. Here is an example:

This is an offer for the player from a club with half a star reputation:

Josh Askew_ Transfer Transfer Offer-2

This is an offer from a three and a half star reputation club:

Josh Askew_ Transfer Transfer Offer

You can clearly see the difference, the player is exactly the same but his asking price from Salford is much higher. This can be a problem for bigger clubs who want to find and attract young players but the asking price may be too much. It’s perfect for lower reputation clubs, but you have to balance risk and reward at a bigger club. You are essentially paying a premium on the player because of your clubs reputation.

I didn’t realise the extent of this, until you put things in to perspective like this. It’s interesting the inflammation of the fee.


Alfreð Finnbogason_ Contract Contract Offer.png

I have an offer accepted for £7.5M for this player. This will never normally be the end price because of signing on and agent fee’s. A lot of people dismiss this and take nothing of it, but it is crucial you check how much you are actually spending on this player. These are the real life equivalent of hidden fee’s. It would cost me nearly £3M extra to sign this player on these terms making the transfer £10.5M. Doesn’t seem much? It all adds up. Think about it this way, you may 5 signings and these fee’s come up to £3M each. That’s £15M. Ridiculous, right?

Lower down in the divisions often players have no agents meaning negotiations are a little easier to finalise, but those that do have agents typically won’t want this much. But you are limiting yourself to what you can buy because it still adds up and for a smaller club these fee’s could crush your bank balance.


This is a big one for me. Just think about it, you are in the Premier League and have ten scouts available to scout across the globe for players – this costs a lot. Now compare this to a club with little funding in the lower divisions with one scout. You can’t exactly compare the both of them because they are completely binary opposites.

Top division club

You have ten scouts scouting the world who are actively looking for the next big star, this means that you will usually get ten different scout reports a month. This will cost the club a lot of money, but when you are in the top divisions the money isn’t much and can be reimbursed by a sale of one of these talented prospects coming through.

Lower division club

Usually you are limited to the amount of scouts you have, and sometimes you don’t even operate with a scout because you want to save money. I tend to have one scout, or a really good assistant manager who can assess the quality of players in the team. I try to save money as much as possible, so doing manual scouting and directly comparing players is a technique I would definitely recommend. It is much harder lower down and a lot of players are trial and error and you pray that they work.


There’s nothing like tapping up a player, right? Well, if you can get away with it that is. If for whatever reason a player you are trying to negotiate with has an agent which really doesn’t want to get a deal done or is asking WAY TOO MUCH, you can ask the player to sack their agent. It’s a roll of a dice if it will work though, and you need to be careful. On one hand you will save money on Agent Fees and probably get a better deal, on the other hand the player could dislike you meaning you won’t be able to sign this player. You have to be careful.

There are other ways you can sign players such as asking a player who is close to the new player or of the same nationality to persuade them to join. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

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