The Politics Of Football Management - Football Manager & Brexit
As the last few years have rumbled on, the prevalence of Brexit within every corner of civilisation has become unrivalled. Even then, with the video gaming world seemingly untouched by Britain's impending exit from the European Union, it comes as intriguing to know that there are some developers who've put it into their games.
Football Manager, the fantastically detailed football management sim developed by the people over at Sports Interactive, has simulated Brexit for a couple of years now, and it's not something that's been taken lightly. With various groups of academics, journalists and even politicians roped in on the idea, the crack team of developers at SI set to work on compiling a series of potential Brexit scenarios.
These scenarios can range from a hard exit, whereby all non-English players require a work permit, and with this, it becomes increasingly difficult to get hold of those South American wonderkids that wannabe managers such as myself crave for. On the slightly softer side, there's the option for a foreign player limit, meaning that whilst work permits might be needed in some instances, these are rare and means that you can still buy and sell players freely, albeit with a cap on the amount of foreign players you can have. This is in a similar vein to the Serie A in Italy, who already have a player cap for those outside of the European Union.
In increasingly rare circumstances, there's the option of remaining inside the EU, which has been a godsend compared to other saves with work permits and points-based systems galore. Within the mod community for Football Manager, there's fixes that essentially stop the Brexit process from occurring, so that the hard-coded Brexit can't happen. Even within the game's community, there's a clear divide between Remainers and Leavers.
With Brexit involved in Football Manager, it just pushes the effects of it further towards the forefront of the gaming experience, which is no bad thing. It's both educational and interesting; indeed, no two games can ever be the same, and no two managers will employ exactly the same tactics, so everyone's method of dealing with the Brexit madness will be different over the course of the game. For me, I got the foreign player limit on my current play-through with Sheffield United, meaning that English players became integral to my 4-2-3-1 tactic, but that didn't stop me from bringing Martin Odegaard on loan to the Championship.
Regardless of this, thanks to the foreign player limit, English players become all the more elusive and as a result more expensive, increasing transfer outlays and worsening club finances. Whilst this is only a small, one-club example, it represents an interesting case study for the future of English football. Worsening club finances thanks to increased spending on English players could mean that the trade of players become regionalised as opposed to the global world of football that we're involved in now and therefore we move back to a narrower world. Indeed, this is a lofty claim, and inevitably won't happen, but it's an example of some of the panic that could surround managers, both virtual and real, in the future.
The inclusion of Brexit within Football Manager only acts as yet another illustration that, for Britain, life outside the European Union will become increasingly difficult. It marks a change in game development, shifting towards the ultra-realistic, throwing extra obstacles in the way of the player base. Whilst games like this are meant to be fun, this throws a complete spanner in the works and acts as a big eye-opener to the potential future of the footballing world post-Brexit. Sports Interactive's endeavour to make Football Manager become yet more realistic has only paid off, I've no doubts about that, and presents virtual managers with another challenge to try and overcome, following countless promotions and victories in continental cup competitions.