Dave C

Lower League in FM - No scouting, no development, no money, no talent?

109 posts in this topic

No talent? Of course not. But you'd think so in FM. As someone who prefers to play in the lower leagues, I just find it a really depressingly dull experience in FM at the moment. It bears so little resemblance to reality, the game serves it so poorly, that it makes for an unrewarding play.

There are a few things that bother me, so I'm going to work through them (sorry, this'll be an essay!).

[B]Scouting[/B]

The first is, bigger clubs in FM don't scout down the leagues. You can use the editor to create a 21 year-old with 100CA and 150PA, and he'll just sit at his non-league club and go nowhere. There's plenty of talent down there in FM, but the game doesn't scout that way, so they never move. Contrast that to reality and players like Stockdale, Kightly, Smalling, Beckford, McLean, Mackail-Smith, Campbell, Ricketts, Taylor, Pilkington, Foster, Holt, Morison, Varney, and many more, who have moved up from non-league to play top-flight football.

There have been 7 or 8 transfers from non-league to the FL and Premiership this January, and there's players like Appiah, Obeng, Vardy, Blair, Walker, McLaughlin, Matt, Cieslewickz, Berry, Parkinson, Brizell, Beautyman, Newson, Prior, Watkins, West, Reeves, Byerley, Creighton, and many more who are being scouted, bidded for, offered trials etc. Non of this happens in FM. You'd never see a player like Jason Prior of Bognor getting a trial at Newcastle in FM. You'd never see Dan Burn moving from Darlington to Fulham for £350k. You'd never see teams like Blackpool, West Ham, Rangers, chasing Jamie Vardy of Fleetwood and having bids of £750k+ turned down!

So, I think it's clear FM has to look at this.

[B]Cash transfers[/B]

The next obvious flaw is the lack of money in transfers in FM at lower leagues. Again just in January, I can see at least 20 transfers involving smaller clubs (L1 and below) that involved fees. Mainly four- and five-figure fees. Now, have a look at the world transfers on your game of FM. Pick a month, and see how many transfers in England involved smaller clubs, and smaller fees. You'll be lucky if it hits double figures in any given transfer window (and I can't recall seeing a four or three figure fee!). The financial modelling in FM just doesn't reflect reality. A few years back, I remember complaing that FM didn't reflect reality in that it lacked free transfers at lower levels, that post-Bosman freebies just weren't happening. Now it's gone toof ar the other way.

Look at non-league (now and recently) clubs like Crawley, Fleetwood, York, Luton, Wrexham, Burton etc. All made several cash signings every season. The notion that cash transfers in non-league and lower-league should be non-existent is utterly false. So it's another thing that needs fixing.

It seems to me that the transfer market in FM at lower levels is driven by a process that can be summarised as:

1. Clubs give their better players 3 year deal. These players rarely show ambition and turn this down.
2. The wages of these deals go up and up, until the club can no longer afford to renew.
3. At this point the player is released, and finally will be signed by another club (often the higher clubs that should have been scouting and bidding before).

At each of these stages we can see critical errors.
1. Players who have ability and potential should be turning down longer deals, and only opting for 1 year deals as they wait to see if their club gets promoted (York's left-back Jason Meredith is an example of this).
2. This, I'm quite sure, is why so many clubs in FM have inadequate squads. They end up being driven into a situation where two-thirds of their wage budget rests on half-a-dozen players, meaning they can barely afford to sign 16 players, meaning they have to fill the squad with loanees and YTs. The clubs need to manage their finances better, and players wages at this level need to grow with less speed. As soon as a human takes over such a club, they can enforce good practice and easily build the strongest squad in the league. If you know what you are doing, you can take a club from the BSBP to the Championship in consecutive seasons on FM. The AI must improve to make it competitive.
3. Good players shouldn't have to wait for this moment. Teams from leagues above should be actively scouting for potential, and for performance. They should be bidding for these players.

Again, we see several obvious points for improvement.


[B]Talent in lower-leagues[/B]

So how does this talent in real-life end up in the lower leagues?

I'd say we can identify two types.
The first is the late bloomer, someone whose ability is not identified as a teenager (or, they were at a pro club till 13/14, then didn't get any further deal), and therefore they develop through non-league sides. I listed quite a few of these players earlier. We don't get enough of this in FM because too few decent players come through lower-league setups, and because FM takes the frankly insulting view that players at such clubs basically don't progress, have no hope of ever moving beyond a basic CA.

The second is where a player comes through the academy of a big club, but when released they opt for first-team football at a lower level, even part-time football, as they feel this is their best option. Again, we don't see this in FM for a couple of reasons.
The first is, players in FM seem to level out to their PA. So if they have a Championship PA, they'll go and sit in the stiffs at a Championship club as opposed to taking the lower-league and first-team action option. So we need to see a bit more variation here, driven by player character.
The second is, players in FM seem too aware of their CA/PA and therefore demand unrealistic wages. In real-life, the type of players I'm talking about take wages of £40k pa and less. Some may only get expenses at a part-time club. But they want to make their name on the pitch, so take that route. In FM, any player released by a PL club wants wages of £50k, £100k, £150k pa. It's just not realistic. These are young lads with no first team action under the belts, yet they want wages that the established senior pros don't even get. FM needs to build experience and age into the way wage demands are calculated.


[B]Conclusions[/B]

Hopefully, I've made a pretty strong case for reform here. I rarely post any more, so when I do it's because something has really made my gaming intolerable. It'd be great to get a response from SI, and I'll try reply to people who post. It'd be good even to get a few people agreeing, just to show there's a case. I'd also welcome further examples and ideas of flaws in this area. I did consider going into the lack of goals at lower levels here, but I'll save that for another post (but seriously, compare an average season of BSBP in FM to reality, have a look at individual striker tallies too, FM isn't working right here).

Cheers.

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Excellent observations, pretty much covers many of my gripes with the game below the top divisions & put across in a way that I could never do. :applause:

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As ever, I agree with pretty much everything Dave says. As a Sheffield United manager, I ought to be looking down the pyramid in England for hidden gems in the game far more often that I actually do. Almost all my purchases tend to be (a) players released by Premiership clubs, or (b) from abroad. In reality, neither of these approaches really happen for the Blades.

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Some related stuff here: [url]http://community.sigames.com/showthread.php/282158-AI-Squad-Management-10-year-analysis[/url]

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Well it's been mentioned many times, but the reputation system I think is no longer fit for purpose. Form should be counted - how many times do you read about players getting a club's attention following a good game against them?

The wages thing is an issue, too, and you are right that players lower down start demanding silly money (way above their abilities). Now if those players had the chance of being bought by a bigger club for some cash (rather than having to offer for £0 and still struggling to get rid), it would at give managers the choice of paying higher wages and hoping you'd be able to sell a little down the line. As you say, the current situation is that you have to let contracts run-down (and then see they've signed for somebody else for much less money).

Agents at the lower level are a real issue, too. In my Serie C2 game, agents start to become an issue early on, demanding excessive fees for ordinary players. How many players at that level even have agents?

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Strongly agree with everything you just said Dave, unfortunately I doubt the situation will ever be as we hope
You know as well as I, that lower level football (and not just referring to lower leagues in England, I'm meaning any league that isn't considered an elite league) has always had issues as the game tries to manage teams in them like they are in a well funded and rep'ed league, yet fails due to it not being able to work

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Absolutely spot on. The complete lack of realism in the lower league transfer world really detracts from the game, and is likely because the AI's approach to transfers is far too rigid. For example, I currently have an excellent 19-year-old Dane playing for me Swindon Supermarine side in the BSS. He currently has Championship side Preston interested, yet I am 99% certain they won't make a bid, or even an enquiry. Then they'll be replaced by another side at that level, who won't make any bids, and so forth.

The trial thing is very evident too. If I have a player performing at this level, why do I not have clubs up the pyramid requesting to take him on trial? Trials aren't just used for free transfers.

Anyone who scores 25+ goals at Conference level attracts the attention of league clubs. They don't in FM. Not to mention not nearly enough lower Champ/League One sides take a chance on Conference stand-outs. Jamie Mackie, Stuart Fleetwood, Steve Morison and most recently Charlie Sheringham all got league moves due to their play in the Conference Premier/North/South. Two of them are now making an impact in the Premiership. Right now league clubs won't touch them unless they have a high PA, which brings into account the issue of AI clubs not taking performance into account enough when buying.

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Is part of the problem not the rating of players in terms of ca and pa? The researchers can't really push the boat out that the likes of a Stockdale is good enough for Premiership football without him showing it. Random PA's perhaps are the way to counter this although it would be somewhat a step away from realism.

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I'm broadly in agreement - well, 95% really. However, in my current save where I started in the BSN I came across exceptions.
I got promoted in my first season, whereupon West Brom offered £250K for my best player, a 'tick key player' DC and my vice-captain. Off he went.
Got promotions in the next 2 seasons with Wrexham - my bogey team whom we haven't beaten in 6 meetings, mainly due to a beast of a Norwegian TM they bought in the first season. Very glad to see him go for £900K+ (from League Two) - to Sion in Switzerland. Some player from Barnet went for a cool million. Having said that, I think a maximum of half a dozen players have gone for any significant fee in each transfer window from BSN to League Two so I agree that the numbers are ridiculously low.

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+1 (albeit that below is at a top team, but something similar happened to me in terms of wages)

I had a scenario where I got a backup player (contract is 22k a week, and is set to backup, he's average at best, nothing special but decent enough for a backup role)

I bought him in January 2019 (8th I think). Feb 12th, he demands a new contract! WHAT!! 35 days after he signed for me, at the age of 22!!

The only thing I could put it down to was that he played all the games from the 8th to the 12/13th, due to 2 first teamers getting injured. So wanted a better contract from backup to first teamer.

Didn't think nothing of it until I actually seen what he demanded, First Team, 78k Wages, 2.8million Loyalty Bonus, 2million Agent Fee, 15% Yearly Wage Rise and 10% profit after sale.

Still shaking my head..

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[quote name='Dave9ffc']Is part of the problem not the rating of players in terms of ca and pa? The researchers can't really push the boat out that the likes of a Stockdale is good enough for Premiership football without him showing it. Random PA's perhaps are the way to counter this although it would be somewhat a step away from realism.[/QUOTE]

It's not about ratings. You can give the player a good PA, he still won't get scouted. The game is programmed that way, clubs just don't "look down".

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[quote name='CityAndColour']Absolutely spot on. The complete lack of realism in the lower league transfer world really detracts from the game, and is likely because the AI's approach to transfers is far too rigid. For example, I currently have an excellent 19-year-old Dane playing for me Swindon Supermarine side in the BSS. He currently has Championship side Preston interested, yet I am 99% certain they won't make a bid, or even an enquiry. Then they'll be replaced by another side at that level, who won't make any bids, and so forth.

The trial thing is very evident too. If I have a player performing at this level, why do I not have clubs up the pyramid requesting to take him on trial? Trials aren't just used for free transfers.

Anyone who scores 25+ goals at Conference level attracts the attention of league clubs. They don't in FM. Not to mention not nearly enough lower Champ/League One sides take a chance on Conference stand-outs. Jamie Mackie, Stuart Fleetwood, Steve Morison and most recently Charlie Sheringham all got league moves due to their play in the Conference Premier/North/South. Two of them are now making an impact in the Premiership. Right now league clubs won't touch them unless they have a high PA, [i]which brings into account the issue of AI clubs not taking performance into account enough when buying.[/i][/QUOTE]

I don't believe form is ever used in any meaningful way by the AI, it's mainly rep and/or CA and PA based (hence why you used to get very average players with a high rep winning major awards).

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Total agreement here as a LLM myself.

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Maybe something like a PPM or a check box or another hidden attribute called "Likelyhood of being a hidden gem" would replicate this in the game.

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I think the main problem with scouting can come down to one thing, and one thing alone: reputation.

Reputation should not be a part of scouting imo, unless a team is specifically looking for a 'trophy' signing.

Performances should be used to judge ability, while performances and age should be used to judge potential.

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Great thread. It's frankly ridiculous how easy it is to rise through the lower tiers just by (1) beating the AI to free transfers of players whose contracts should never have expired, (2) actually being able to keep wages in check, and (3) hardly ever losing players to higher divisions (I'd swear this happened more in previous versions, but it's probably just my perception).

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As a Luton fan, I would say this is spot on. Every year on the patches between the start and January update, we see pre-arranged real life deals with five figure fees. Last season there were 3 I think! Yet every game has a transfer budget of £0 at non-league clubs & never sign any players for fees. This is also why financial difficulties are few & far between on FM.

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Completely agree with all of these points - the only thing that I have seen in this version which is an improvement on previous versions of the game is (non human) lower league teams progressing up into the Championship and Prem in long term games - this never used to happen.

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[quote name='chile_paul']Completely agree with all of these points - the only thing that I have seen in this version which is an improvement on previous versions of the game is (non human) lower league teams progressing up into the Championship and Prem in long term games - this never used to happen.[/QUOTE]I'm actually concerned by the rise of some lower league clubs as it appears that it is the cost of Premier League & Championship clubs who get relegated not handling their change in circumstances & we could be back to the days of CM3 where some very big clubs end up at the foot of the football league.

Currently in my game (2019/20) Preston are looking odds on to be playing next season in the Blue Square North, Reading & Crystal Palace are at risk of being relegated to the Blue Square Premier, in each case this is due to them holding on to their highest paid players & being unable to maintain a senior squad. Reading currently have 4 contract f/t players with 2 of them costing £51,000 per week plus appearance bonuses.

To put Reading's wage spending into context I am spending £11,789 per week in L2.

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[quote name='Ackter']I think the main problem with scouting can come down to one thing, and one thing alone: reputation.

Reputation should not be a part of scouting imo, unless a team is specifically looking for a 'trophy' signing.

Performances should be used to judge ability, while performances and age should be used to judge potential.[/QUOTE]

Totally agree. Reputation might have been a necessary evil back in the day but the whole FM scouting\buying AI is built around it and its looking increasingly like its reached its limits. Either have the AI judge players on performances or add seasonal reputation that's determined by performances and fluctuates much more then normal reputation and have that as the primary buying criteria.

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I just tested with my Prem team, 8th season. I scouted the 20 highest valued under 18s at non-league clubs on my save. At least 8-9 have 3* potential for a premier league side & 4 are already at least 1.5* and at least league 1 level. Yet not one club is interested in signing any of these players in the game. If this was real life teams would be queueing up. IRL Chelsea just bought 3 13 year old brothers from Luton. In the game, the lower league teams academies are neglected!

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[quote name='Barside'] Reading currently have 4 contract f/t players with 2 of them costing £51,000 per week plus appearance bonuses.

To put Reading's wage spending into context I am spending £11,789 per week in L2.[/QUOTE]
So Reading have been relegated twice and their max wage has nearly tripled? :eek:

I think reputation has a place and there are several cases of teams signing players on reputation alone. Robbie Keane's loan to Aston Villa is one example of a player signed based on their reputation who wasn't a "trophy" signing. However, the performances a scout sees should have a bigger impact.

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that is the thing, the premier league teams pick up players players already in the game, and newgens from other countries.
i myself got a player from leyton orient for 180k, he got into the first team because of injuries after 7 months, and was there for a good month. he even got called up for englandu21's, had barca after sanogo, real madrid after a spanish regen i purchased... but no one after they guy who broke into the first team.
also trying to get a 189 PA american, no one else in interested.
my scouts pick up these great newgens in the doldrums (got 2 players newgens from ireland), so mmaybe the computers should be on a scouting system. then they would find them.
or maybe they just dont scout there.

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[quote name='SCIAG']So Reading have been relegated twice and their max wage has nearly tripled? :eek:[/QUOTE]I think what ruined Reading was the Premier League TV money bug, I assume that every area of the game assumed they would receive the full TV income so overheads increased accordingly & the AI was unable to cope with the fact they do not receive the right income due to the daft database error.

Preston & Palace have no such excuse, I'm also keeping a keen eye on QPR who are still paying Tarabt £38,000 per week to sit on the bench in league 1, 2 starts & 4 sub appearances after 21 games is madness. I'm guess that the reason a club has not activated his modest release fee will no doubt be that he wants £50,000 a week.

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[quote name='Shake Appeal']Great thread. It's frankly ridiculous how easy it is to rise through the lower tiers just by (1) beating the AI to free transfers of players whose contracts should never have expired, (2) actually being able to keep wages in check, and (3) hardly ever losing players to higher divisions (I'd swear this happened more in previous versions, but it's probably just my perception).[/QUOTE]

totally agree. I've taken Salisbury from BSS to the Prem in 7 seasons and it's been pretty easy. I have lost none of my players to bigger clubs, I've had none of my players complain on the odd occasion I've refused a bid, and I've had no players 'want to move to a bigger club'. This definitely happened more often in earlier versions and it used to be a lot more realistic (and harder)

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I agree that AI squad building and transfer policy is in dire shape and is in need of a lot of work. The blame is almost entirely on the extremely prevalent use of "reputation" in all areas of the game.

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I tried as Manager of West Ham to scout the Blue Square to find some hidden gems but without success which is such a shame. Back when football was football The Hammers signed Alan Devonshire from Southall for a pittance and he went on to be a great. In the 80's we signed Frank McAvennie from St. Mirren in Scotland who were quite low at the time and Mark Ward from lowly Oldham and they both made the step up effortlessly. However IRL I can't think really of the last time a Club did that and made a star out of a lower League player. I would love to find one or two from a Hampton and Waterlooville or a Maidenhead but have never got to do that. Is it because I am looking for the wrong things in a scout report or is the talent just not there?

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Love this thread, I play quite a lot in the lower leagues; it's so difficult to rise up the divisions IRL and its not represented well enough in FM. Completely agree with all of your points. I hope SI read this thread.

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Fantastic thread and a subject which I've wanted to see addressed for a long time now. I don't think anyone is suggesting that superstars should be routinely cropping up in non-league, but there should be more Premier League and Championship level talent, certainly more L1 and L2 talent and it should be identified more by big clubs when it does appear.

On the subject of clubs ruining themselves with high wages for 6 or 7 players I think a lot of the problems have been caused by the introduction of the 'Match Highest Earner' clause. As others have pointed out, one of the big advantages for human players is that we are much better at controlling our wage budgets. This works in multiple ways (identifying who is worth what they're being paid and moving out those who aren't; offering sensible contract lengths depending on age and potential etc.), but a major issue is that the AI is much to ready to hand out Match Highest Earner clauses and Yearly wage increases. In FM11 and FM12 I have taken over Championship clubs and found a wage bill primarily bloated by 5 or 6 individuals on high wages. Usually 2 or 3 of these will have a Match Highest Earner clause of which only one will be worth what he is being paid. Others will be in the third or fourth year of a contract with a 15% yearly increase. In this way players who are given maybe 2k or 3k/week more than they are actually worth end up getting 7 or 8k more. This creates inflation in the game and means that 1) by the 8th season or so any club that loses revenue is in serious trouble and 2) signing 24 or 25 year olds is extremely expensive because they refuse to take a pay cut to what they are actually worth so you're left either paying a back up £35k/week or picking up someone on a free who has sat in the reserves for 2 years.

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A brilliant post and I have a few examples from my last 18 months of playing that made me think 'what is the AI doing'?

I saw a current premier league side drop down to league 2 and had to cut down to an 8k per week wage budget as they were is such a bad state. In this case they had a midfielder still on 12k a week and 7 physio's! The majority of the squad was kids on 150 quid a week and needless to say it was unbalanced.

I got promoted to the championship after 3 seasons. Picked up a centre mid from Gillingham who was classed as a good championship player on a free. Nobody else offered him a contract except the club I got him from. Seriously though, how did nobody spot him or go after him until I made the move? He should of moved a long time before I had gone in for him.

A regen on my current save is a striker called Michael Shepherd. He started at Man City before he got released at 18. Joined Macclesfield who are now in the BSP and hit 29 goals in his 1st season in senior football just in the league. Come February this season and he has scored 19 already but nobody is interested! Sorry but he had 48 league goals to his name and he is still not even 20 yet, there should be a queue longer than the proverbial country mile for his services.

Probably the most important of the lot, In my only full season at Wrexham, I got 7 youth candidate players sign for me who were classed as future decent championship players. 5 years later and Wrexham are now in the championship and 4 of those are playing regularly for the club, 1 is a backup and the other 2 got released and disappeared off the face of the earth after getting released and not being offered a deal anywhere else. How did none of these ever get signed by another club at any stage?

There are also many other notable things in my current save. I found a couple of Championship and League 1 clubs with hardly any players at all under 28. They have just generally kept the same players and let them age without trying to improve the squad or trying to bring in younger players. On the other side of the coin, Chelmsford got promoted to league 2 and in their 1st season the oldest player was aged 22 with the vast majority of players aged 18 or 19, luckily them improved over the course of the season and won on the last day to survive. I know its only a general rule of thumb but I am of the belief that most managers try to balance age and experience in a first team squad.
As I look down in the Blue Square leagues I find that many other clubs have players aged 18-22 and hardly anybody older than this at all. It seems that if a player hasn't moved up to the football league by the time he is 23 then his career is over. He will leave his club after rejecting a deal or not being offered 1 at all, sit around as a free agent without getting any sort of offer and then retire to be never seen again. The clubs then replace these players with youngsters released by bigger sides or produced by themselves and the process continues. They even sign some players from big clubs like PSG and Ajax! What is the betting that Michael Shepherd will have scored 100 goals by 23 and then retire because he can't get a club?

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Some very very valid points...

However I think there's are two more key factors to take into account too.

1) Players' reputation also works in our favour... Just like our club can sometimes lose some good players for free, there'll be PLENTY of other, equally good, players we'll be able to sign for free (often for a lower wage).

2) Human managers have a huge advantage over AI, so the shortcomings of lower league scouting [although if the player is deemed as good enough, aka sufficiently high PA for the standard of our club, you'll get a report/recommendation].


Also, FM offers a much much bigger chance for "rags to riches" stories than real life. It'd not directly affect the transfers dynamics or anything, but it may play a part in the scenarios the OP is reporting.

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I'll stick my two cents in here and note that I often play down in the boiler room that is NI2. There seems to be a very hard breakpoint in the willingness of clubs to spend even $2 for a player. Literally. Many times I have offered surplus players (who should be welcome at other clubs in the league as well as the non-league clubs) for $2 and been rejected across the board. Then, I offer the player for zero and five or six bids come out of the woodwork. The offering clubs will then hire my guy for six times what I was paying. This is made even stranger by the fact that these offering clubs are already paying enormous salaries to other players on their rosters. So, they clearly have the money. Overall, I find it very difficult to unload players with substantial transfer value (by the standards of NI2) unless I literally give them away. Then, of course, the fans hang me in effigy (a small town near the border).

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There are certainly some very strange goings on with finances in FM12.

I've seen clubs employing 30+ scouts (one low(ish) league club has over 40), there are a group of players in the English Championship on £90pw yet I see Blue Square North players on £1600pw, managers are getting tucked up by chairman with less than 10 managers in the entire global game earning more than £30k & a BSP club accepting £10k over 3 years for a player in January because his contract was expiring in the summer.

Much like the ME the financial modelling is starting to show signs of its age & is struggling to cope with the extreme differences in simulating the finances of the elite clubs, high turnover but generally broke clubs & the fodder at the foot of the football hierarchy.

I really think that FM has reached a peak of its current capabilities (iirc the core code is over 10 years old now) as it more or less applies the same principles to all clubs & leagues in the game yet it is obvious that other than using the same basic equipment the daily business of football at Ochilview Park has nothing in common with the daily business of football seen at the Camp Nou.

Any future investment needs to go on developing an entirely new game model that can handle the differences across football, if this means SI skipping a year then that is what they should do as I can only see FM13 being just as frustrating as recent versions.

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I haven't played a lower league game in England for a few years now, but I do play lower league games in other countries.

I think good players retiring because they can't find a club has been a problem for many years. On FM2006 I had a save game where I only managed New Zealand. I ran just the Australian league, as I wasn't doing any club management. Every year about 3/4 months after players contracts expired I'd have to add a manager at an Australian club and sign up my free agent internationals to stop them retiring. I'm guessing some of you may disagree with that method, but if I didn't do it I would have kept losing my players, and I didn't have too many good ones.

I still see good players retiring like this, and I'm not sure SI have done much to rectify that over the last 5/6 years.

Another observation is that when I had a great lower league save with Hammerfest in Norway on FM2007, higher division AI clubs regularly attempted to sign my players. They often succeeded as well because my chairman would go and accept the bid. I played as the same club on FM2010, and I don't really recall the AI bidding for my players like they did on FM2007. I also recall playing as Redditch on that game and regularly seeing my chairman sell off my players. I eventually resigned because I'd had enough of it! Thinking about it, I have to say instances of the AI bidding for my players in the lower leagues has decreased quite a bit from a few years ago.

Regarding PA, I have a theory that the AI managers aren't aware enough of it. I used to think on FM2007 that the AI knew far too much about a player's PA. I could tell this because I'd have 2 players with similar looking attributes, but the AI would only ever bid for the one who my scouts said had the higher potential before I signed them. Perhaps SI have tried to make it harder for the AI to see PA, so they're just looking at the CA of lower league players, and more or less ignoring future potential.

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[quote name='AytchMan']I'll stick my two cents in here and note that I often play down in the boiler room that is NI2. There seems to be a very hard breakpoint in the willingness of clubs to spend even $2 for a player. Literally. Many times I have offered surplus players (who should be welcome at other clubs in the league as well as the non-league clubs) for $2 and been rejected across the board. Then, I offer the player for zero and five or six bids come out of the woodwork. The offering clubs will then hire my guy for six times what I was paying. This is made even stranger by the fact that these offering clubs are already paying enormous salaries to other players on their rosters. So, they clearly have the money. Overall, I find it very difficult to unload players with substantial transfer value (by the standards of NI2) unless I literally give them away. Then, of course, the fans hang me in effigy (a small town near the border).[/QUOTE]

This is because semi-pro clubs never spend money on a player, even if they have cash in the bank. I have no idea why it's programmed that way, as it doesn't make any sense.

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[I]This is because semi-pro clubs never spend money on a player...[/I]

I haven't found that to be true. I looked back over my transfers for the last five years and there are several in which I received cash from semi-pro clubs. Usually, though, the cash has been offered in direct acceptance of the asking price. There just seems to be this big disconnect between no money at all and a trivial sum.

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From a lower league perspective in Belgium - I played a couple of seasons in a lower Belgium league with FC Dender and have now been in the top flight for two seasons. In all that time I have managed to sell 3 players and loan out 1 (not to an affiliate - my chariman can't find one apparently). I will accept that these aren't the greatest players alive - but would surely do a job elsewhere. Even if offered out for free - no takers. And their wages were about £300-£500 per week.

This is based on me offering out players. That I can recall, I have only had 1 offer from a club in those four seasons. A 25 goal in a season striker offered for £30k - no interest.

I've always preferred to work in lower leagues and build up - but in the early days the key to survival was getting dirt cheap players, making them successful and hopefully selling them at a profit to fund new facilities. Now I can't shift anyone and if I need to free up wage budget, I have to cancel contracts and take the hit. I'm getting by, but an enjoyable aspect of the game for lower league play has gone.

I am enjoying FM12 to a point - but have to confess that this version seems to be less 'fun'. A key factor in the game to me is wheeling and dealing - I wouldn't want 50 clubs coming in for my 7k defender, but I think things have gone a bit too far the other way.

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Have to agree [B]swedishchef[/B], I know this isn't lower league but im in my third save as Blackburn and every transfer window there have been 3/4 clubs interested in Samba and ive had one bid, which wasn't even worth my time of day. I think its poor AI to be honest, about the only player ive ever had serious interest in is HAmsik for Napoli, besides from that nothing ever happens.

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[quote name='Barside']There are certainly some very strange goings on with finances in FM12.

I've seen clubs employing 30+ scouts (one low(ish) league club has over 40), there are a group of players in the English Championship on £90pw yet I see Blue Square North players on £1600pw, managers are getting tucked up by chairman with less than 10 managers in the entire global game earning more than £30k & a BSP club accepting £10k over 3 years for a player in January because his contract was expiring in the summer.

Much like the ME the financial modelling is starting to show signs of its age & is struggling to cope with the extreme differences in simulating the finances of the elite clubs, high turnover but generally broke clubs & the fodder at the foot of the football hierarchy.

I really think that FM has reached a peak of its current capabilities (iirc the core code is over 10 years old now) as it more or less applies the same principles to all clubs & leagues in the game yet it is obvious that other than using the same basic equipment the daily business of football at Ochilview Park has nothing in common with the daily business of football seen at the Camp Nou.

Any future investment needs to go on developing an entirely new game model that can handle the differences across football, if this means SI skipping a year then that is what they should do as I can only see FM13 being just as frustrating as recent versions.[/QUOTE]

I agree, but at the same time I can't see too much changing. PaulC has said in other threads that he hasn't decided if the new engine will appear in FM13 or not, and I think that sums up the way SI now operate. They got into this yearly cycle and - just as we see with PES and FIFA each year - it makes it very hard to make sweeping changes or start code from scratch (irrelevant of how much it is needed). Instead we get told about 800 [b]new[/b] features in this version (I'd love to see that list, because I'm sorry to say I don't believe it), instead of looking at the underlying systems - reputation, CA/PA, finances. Instead, we have a situation where certain aspects of the game are 'good enough' to use year after year.

How has FM sold over the years, out of interest? It always used to be a strong-seller in the CM days (1m+ I think) but I saw something in a thread suggesting the FM11 only sold around 700,000 copies? Is there a general downward trend?

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[quote name='Sussex Hammer']I tried as Manager of West Ham to scout the Blue Square to find some hidden gems but without success which is such a shame. Back when football was football The Hammers signed Alan Devonshire from Southall for a pittance and he went on to be a great. In the 80's we signed Frank McAvennie from St. Mirren in Scotland who were quite low at the time and Mark Ward from lowly Oldham and they both made the step up effortlessly. However IRL I can't think really of the last time a Club did that and made a star out of a lower League player. I would love to find one or two from a Hampton and Waterlooville or a Maidenhead but have never got to do that. Is it because I am looking for the wrong things in a scout report or is the talent just not there?[/QUOTE]

Fulham signed Chris Smalling from Maidstone Utd.

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[quote name='SuperMeppen']How has FM sold over the years, out of interest? It always used to be a strong-seller in the CM days (1m+ I think) but I saw something in a thread suggesting the FM11 only sold around 700,000 copies? Is there a general downward trend?[/QUOTE]Actual numbers never seem to be released for the PC market but it is widely reported that FM12 produced record sales numbers.

Agree with you on the 800 new features comment, I'd hazard a guess that a good number of those are minor tweaks to existing features with a lot of background stuff but 800 is a good headline number so I can't blame SI for using it from a marketing perspective.

As for the annual cycle I understand the reasoning behind it, why change the business model when the current method generates profit? There would no doubt be concerns outside SI of repeating the mistakes of BSG when they skipped a year so it would be a very brave decision to step back, look at what the title has achieved & what it can achieve using the current source code then decide to rip it up & start afresh.

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[quote name='Barside']Agree with you on the 800 new features comment, I'd hazard a guess that a good number of those are minor tweaks to existing features with a lot of background stuff but 800 is a good headline number so I can't blame SI for using it from a marketing perspective.[/quote]

Yeah, for some irrational reason this annoys me - I suspect that many of these 'new' features are fixes (which doesn't make it new by any description) - so it's false advertising. But more than that, it's that the core game continues to creak and groan under the strain of code that is in need of an overhaul.

[quote]As for the annual cycle I understand the reasoning behind it, why change the business model when the current method generates profit? There would no doubt be concerns outside SI of repeating the mistakes of BSG when they skipped a year so it would be a very brave decision to step back, look at what the title has achieved & what it can achieve using the current source code then decide to rip it up & start afresh.[/QUOTE]

Of course, it always comes down to it working as an annual product. Of course, the problem is that whilst it is generating record sales (I wonder if that is record sales of the FM side of it, not compared to CM? Either way it's moot I guess) there is no real incentive to make significant change. Which is fair enough, but frustrating for those of us who wish to see some real change.

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We're are wandering off-topic a little here but I seem to remember that there were a few years between the final CM2 release & the launch of CM3 with a similar gap between CM01/02 to CM4 & CM03/04 to FM2005, it can be done without risking the long term survival of the game.

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[quote name='Barside']We're are wandering off-topic a little here but I seem to remember that there were a few years between the final CM2 release & the launch of CM3 with a similar gap between CM01/02 to CM4 & CM03/04 to FM2005, it can be done without risking the long term survival of the game.[/QUOTE]

That was all when SI were an independant company before Sega bought them, so I can't see it happening now sadly.

Getting back OT, why do so many lower league players have yearly increase clauses and obscenely high appearance fees? That can't be right, surely? It cripples clubs all across the board and has an affect on a club's ability to pay, thus further stagnating the transfer market at the bottom. Are wages and clauses generated on the fly when the game starts for clubs below a certain division (and how is it determined - reputation again)?

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reputation is the main issue, but there are a few decent players available (jamil adam, fergus bell to name 2) for free. the most interesting one regarding reputation was my east stirling save, got promotion and a small transfer budget of 58k, which is nice.... until you come to spend it and your reputation means you acctually still can only sign free transfers.
as for lower league talent? go look at crewe, they have youth facilitys rated at something stupid like 14 (higher then most championship clubs).
oh and i got a wonderkid from layton orient as blackpool from their youth, so it does happen.

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[quote name='scott MUFC']reputation is the main issue, but there are a few decent players available (jamil adam, fergus bell to name 2) for free. the most interesting one regarding reputation was my east stirling save, got promotion and a small transfer budget of 58k, which is nice.... until you come to spend it and your reputation means you acctually still can only sign free transfers.
as for lower league talent? go look at crewe, they have youth facilitys rated at something stupid like 14 (higher then most championship clubs).
oh and i got a wonderkid from layton orient as blackpool from their youth, so it does happen.[/QUOTE]
All those buying tips only serve to increase the players advantage over the AI when managing in the lower league with the net result being an easier & for a good number of players a less enjoyable gaming experience.

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It's not only that,it's also the teams of the lower leagues themselves that make no moves,especially since on most countries they end up being below balance by the end of the first year.

For example,let's say I chose a swedish team of their second division and I have a player with really mediocre stats (aka,extremelly bad,mediocre for that level of football) who happens to carry the team to the trophy and promotion almost by himself.

Next year that I'll be on the first division,that player just doesn't cut it anymore,so of course I got to get rid of him,but absolutely no team will want him, not even the ones that stayed on the second division. That doesn't make sense. A player that proved to dominate a division is not wanted by any team of that division? A little too picky aren't they?

AI teams should be able to make mistakes as well due to performances instead of just CA and PA. Like getting someone who just had a good year only to find out that it's not exactly what they thought it would be. This rarely ever happens now.

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I signed this right-back as a 17-year old from Crewe (though I let him stay until the end of the season) who were in non-league at the time, after he constantly achieved 8.0+ ratings and won Player of the Month 5 months on the trot. They were promoted largely thanks to his performances, after which he linked up with me. Checked Genie Scout once I had him and he has a PA of 185, can play at a similar level to Sergio Ramos:

[URL=http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/408/screenshot20120127at010.png/][IMG]http://img408.imageshack.us/img408/3978/screenshot20120127at010.png[/IMG][/URL]
[URL=http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/263/screenshot20120127at013.png/][IMG]http://img263.imageshack.us/img263/1975/screenshot20120127at013.png[/IMG][/URL]

Chucked him straight in at the deep end and he has performed excellently and made the step up with no problems. Nobody apart from me was contesting for his signature, though after just four months of playing for me, Chelsea were sniffing around. In January, Man City and Liverpool both joined Chelsea in having major interest in him until I tied him down to a longer, more rewarding contract. They had never even heard of him a year ago, backing up the theory that the AI doesn't look at lower leagues.

Went through non-league again mid-way through my current season season trawling for talent, and Kettering have this guy:

[URL=http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/20/screenshot20120127at011.png/][IMG]http://img20.imageshack.us/img20/175/screenshot20120127at011.png[/IMG][/URL]
[URL=http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/10/screenshot20120127at011.png/][IMG]http://img10.imageshack.us/img10/175/screenshot20120127at011.png[/IMG][/URL]

They have a terrible squad apart from this guy, but thanks to him and him alone are in the play-off places. As you can see, he has been destroying the BSS/N for years, yet nobody has taken a punt on him. In real life League One and mid-table Championship sides would be clamouring for this guy given his record, but in FM it simply doesn't happen. I would sign him if he was a couple of years younger, though part of me is tempted too anyway so he doesn't rot in non-league for the rest of his career.

As you can see, I have risen from non-league to the Premier League and I have to concur with everything the OP has said. It's just too easy and majorly flawed in terms of AI. My current captain (a CB regen) was bought for £750k after I got promoted to League One and MK Dons were relegated to the BSP. I have no idea what his CA was when I bought him but it was excellent for that level and he was clearly a good prospect, but again I was the only club in for him. He has a PA of 165 and has been capped for Scotland, making his debut at 21. Surely the bigger clubs, or at least a mediocre Premier League side like West Brom or Wigan would be looking for bargains like this? I am thoroughly enjoying this save, my first LLM one, but there are a lot of flaws with it for sure.

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[quote name='Barside']We're are wandering off-topic a little here but I seem to remember that there were a few years between the final CM2 release & the launch of CM3 with a similar gap between CM01/02 to CM4 & CM03/04 to FM2005, it can be done without risking the long term survival of the game.[/QUOTE]

Not one gap ;)

[LIST]
[*][URL="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Championship_Manager_series#Championship_Manager"]1 Championship Manager[/URL]
[LIST]
[*][URL="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Championship_Manager_series#Championship_Manager_.2793"]1.1 Championship Manager '93[/URL]
[*][URL="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Championship_Manager_series#Championship_Manager_Italia"]1.2 Championship Manager Italia[/URL]
[*][URL="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Championship_Manager_series#Championship_Manager_.2793_Data_Up-Date_Disks"]1.3 Championship Manager '93 Data Up-Date Disks[/URL]
[/LIST]
[*][URL="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Championship_Manager_series#Championship_Manager_2"]2 Championship Manager 2[/URL]
[LIST]
[*][URL="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Championship_Manager_series#Championship_Manager_96.2F97"]2.1 Championship Manager 96/97[/URL]
[*][URL="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Championship_Manager_series#Championship_Manager_97.2F98"]2.2 Championship Manager 97/98[/URL]
[/LIST]
[*][URL="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Championship_Manager_series#Championship_Manager_3"]3 Championship Manager 3[/URL]
[LIST]
[*][URL="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Championship_Manager_series#Championship_Manager:_Season_99.2F00"]3.1 Championship Manager: Season 99/00[/URL]
[*][URL="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Championship_Manager_series#Championship_Manager:_Season_00.2F01"]3.2 Championship Manager: Season 00/01[/URL]
[*][URL="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Championship_Manager_series#Championship_Manager:_Season_01.2F02"]3.3 Championship Manager: Season 01/02[/URL]
[/LIST]
[*][URL="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Championship_Manager_series#Championship_Manager_4"]4 Championship Manager 4[/URL]
[LIST]
[*][URL="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Championship_Manager_series#Championship_Manager:_Season_03.2F04"]4.1 Championship Manager: Season 03/04[/URL]
[/LIST]
[/LIST]

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