TL;DR: I shamelessly copied and gathered inspiration from various sources, and now I'm sharing my new wage structure spreadsheet with you. Below are instructions on how to use it, explanations in the middle, and downloads at the bottom. Maybe it'll be useful to you.
Credits: This is my own spreadsheet, but I gathered information and received inspiration from the following sources:
I am aware that there must be other places where this has been shared or discussed, but these are the ones I looked into.
How does it look?
This is an example of my Ajax save in the first season (23/24). As you can see, there is a nice color scheme that indicates some overpaid starters and important players from the start, as well as room for squad players who could be given more playing time.
This is an automated sheet, so every time you modify the info, colors, and calculations will change accordingly.
How to use it?
1. First, you must download it. There is one protected version, so there's no risk of breaking formulas by mistake.
2. Enter the required info. You can fill the cells surrounded by a black border:
A. Player's info. Wages are in £ per year/week according to the one you downloaded. End of the contract is dd/mm/yyyy.
Key player: Star & Important players.
Starters: also includes the first-choice GK
Squad players: squad players and below, I make no distinction.
Prospects: the most important upcoming youngsters. In big teams, usually the best among U23/U21/B team.
Youth: future prospects and below, practically everyone in U18.
B. Total budget: transfer budget + wages budget + scouting budget. (you can see all three in the finances tab, to the right, in the default skin)
C. Scouting budget (you can set this according to your level and finances) I usually do it by multiplying Scouting package cost * 0.5.
D. Your preferred percentage of wages budget against your transfers budget. In small teams and non-league, this usually is 100%. For big teams, I have found that 80% is a healthy ratio and then I test it over time.
E. Percentage of Buffer: it's healthy to have some non-spent money that can alleviate bleeding cash for unexpected needs, like increasing the scouts' budget or paying bonus fees.
F. Number of matches that you expect to play in a season (this helps to better calculate the recommended appearance fee)
G. Important dates for the end of contracts. By default, I want to know which players are in their last 1 or 2 years.
H. Ideal number of players you wish to have eventually. The ones by default are based on a team with U23/21/B team and U18 team. The exact numbers and calculations are in the EXPLANATION below.
I. Change these as you wish. The ones by default are the ones I use, but feel free to redo.
Once you enter the info, everything else will calculate itself. There you have it.
Why is this important?
Many managers fill the forums with issues derived from upset players who want their agreed playtime, and others avoid this issue by overspending. Having a strong financial structure ensures you are always in the green, or at least, that you can have enough reaction time to see the issues coming.
Also, a clear wage structure tied with the agreed playing time allows you to evaluate your players. Who is being paid for poor performance? Who doesn't deserve their playtime? Who deserves a raise?
In my experience, although it's difficult at the beginning (it's tempting to give a superstar whatever they ask, and negotiations can take a hard turn once you see a player who accepts a squad player position but charges an important player wage), the end results are extremely healthy finances, a full squad of happy players (I already know who will not get next season's Christmas), and a tight planning. Also, the naturally growing room for wages allows you not to be afraid of buying megastars when the time comes.
How am I calculating these numbers?
OK. By researching in a lot of places and some testing, my ideal configuration right now is based on a 75 players full-squad, 25 per tier (senior, U23/B, U18)
4 Key players
11 Squad p.
and for smaller teams, a 50 full-players squad (senior and U18)
4 Key players
11 Squad p.
Obviously, we're talking about the ideal. Those are the numbers that I expect to achieve during the first two seasons after rebuilding.
Now, the numbers.
Total budget is all the money you, as a player, have at your disposal. It's divided between transfers, wages, and scouting. The reason I use this added number is so I can manage the squad building and club finances at the same time. With other methods, there's a tendency to break the bank account if you suddenly enter on a takeover or have to make emergency signings in lower leagues.
Every club and every manager has a style for scouting, so I allow myself to decide my scouting budget based on the pack that I can afford. Also, since you always want to have some extra for individual scouting, I usually calculate this by +50% (pack cost * 1.5). Unless you have a very long shortlist with the checkbox for keeping the reports up to date at all times, usually it's ok. And if you spend it all, there's always the buffer.
To me, 80-20 in the wages-transfers budget ratio is more than enough unless you are already ahead of the curve.
Once you have filled the spaces, you can see the percentages each tier of player takes from the budget. In my first example, Key players account for 29% of the wages budget. This is then calculated per player on the left.
Bear in mind that the entire sheet uses only two values: base wage (weekly or yearly) and appearance fees.
The formulas are:
For recommended max base wage: ((wages budget * %tier) / #players per tier) * 0.8
For recommended max app. fee: (((wages budget * %tier) / #players per tier) * 0.2) / (#matches per season * %matches expected per tier)
As you can see, I have divided the 100% of a player's contract (when you sign it) into 80% base wage and 20% for the maximum app. fee. (the number displayed is purposely taken down, so in reality, you have the buffer + some unaccounted budget for other bonuses, but I don't want to math. The point is, you can put in other bonuses and maybe never notice the difference)
Also, I assume these numbers for the % of matches each tier expects to play in a season:
Important prospects: 20%
Youth: 1% :P
This is matches played, so matches paid for, NOT matches as a starter. Even if you substitute a prospect, he is being paid the full app fee.
Everybody plays differently, and honestly, who knows if this will be used by anyone, but just in case, I have created different files for different kinds of FM managers, so that you can play with the numbers and configs as much or as little as you want. Also, I usually play in the local currency of my club, but since the majority of you are playing in £ that's what the protected versions use. I have divided the community into:
"I just want to use it but not break it": protected sheet, only allows you to write into the black boxes.
- Beta weekly wage guy: same formulas but divided into 52.
- Yearly wage enjoyer
"I want to break it": you can edit as you wish.
Thanks for reading. Let me know your thoughts or if there are mistakes, and have a nice day.
Just_use_not_break_YEARLY.xlsx Just_use_not_break_WEEKLY.xlsx I_want_to_break_it.xlsx