I’ve been a bit quiet as everyone else around me has been revealing their FM18 plans left, right and centre. The new game has been fully released, and I’m now ready to get fired right about it.
If you know me, you’ll know I’m Scottish and that I love Scottish football. I’m also a big believer in focusing on your strengths, and that’s why I’m heading back to Scotland on FM18. I want to establish myself as the go-to when it comes to anything Football Manager and Scotland. If you’ve got a burning question about anything to do with Scottish football on Football Manager, you come to me. Alright pal?
I think the reason you’re all reading this though is to see what I’ll actually be doing on FM18, so let’s get into it then.
I might be very passionate about Scottish football and portraying the leagues in a positive light, but there is something I hate about it. That something is the league set up. The 12-team top flight, followed by three divisions of 10 alongside the Scottish Cup, the League (Betfred) Cup and the Challenge (Irn-Bru) Cup for lower league teams makes it hugely repetitive. Greenock Morton, my club, and Dundee United played against each other seven times last season! Madness.
Heading back to Scotland was the first reveal. So the second big FM18 reveal from me is that I’ll be editing the structure of the Scottish leagues. I’m planning to stay in the country for the entirety of FM18, so it has to be done. My FM16 experience, ten seasons with my beloved Morton, only backed that up. What will the structure look like? Glad you asked.
New Scottish Structure
It’s a humongous 16 tier setup! 288 clubs of pure madness but it all starts with the return of the Scottish Premier League (SPL). For those that don’t pay much attention to Scottish football, you might be surprised to hear that the SPL hasn’t actually been a thing since the 2012/13 season. The top flight has been called the Scottish Premiership (or Ladbrokes Premiership) since the merger of the SPL and the SFL (Scottish Football League, the lower leagues). Through the incompetence of those whose job it is to promote our game, it’s failed to be adopted as the norm, and most fans, pundits, players and managers in and out of Scottish football have continued to call it the SPL. So I thought, why not bring it back.
Where possible, all of the teams in each new league created are based on their positions in their current leagues over the 2016/17 season. Believe me, football leagues in Scotland are a very complicated and not-so-joined up system. There’s tiers all over the place, some that don’t lead to any others in any way at all. Which leads us nicely onto the 15 tiers below the SPL, Scottish Division One all the way down to Scottish Division Fifteen. These tiers, alongside the SPL, will all be 18-team leagues and each team will play each other home and away. There’s three automatic relegation spots in each league, and in all the tiers aside from the top, two automatic promotion spots plus a playoff to determine the third team going up. Here’s a screenshot of the top three tiers.
One major thing about the Scottish game that you need to know is that there’s no money growing on trees here in comparison to our English counterparts down south. In creating your own league structure, the temptation to go mad and boost the financial side of the game is always prevalent. When it comes to this league structure, finances have actually been a pretty difficult decision. I’ve decided on the winners of the SPL getting £4.8m. This is in comparison to the £2.7m that the winners of the Scottish Premiership will receive on FM18 usually in season one. Prize money per position will then decrease the lower down we go. In my tests of the database, this has resulted in quite a bit of money entering the Scottish game, but if you compare it to other leagues, I still think it’s quite fair. The top two tiers will have a TV deal, which will be significantly less than the prize money total for winning the leagues, but still a decent amount. I think both of these things make sense, with the (imaginary) fanfare and excitement around the leagues being expanded and restructured.
The lower down the leagues we go, the more difficult it gets. If you think there’s no money at the top of Scottish football, some of these teams being added into the league structure are dealing in packets of crisps and chewing gum. Is it realistic to be asking Dalbeattie Star or Gretna to travel to John O’Groats or FMPressure‘s Thurso? Do some of the clubs even want to do it? No, is the short answer. Some lower league and non-league Scottish clubs have the fanbases and resources to be competing in the current league structure, but they don’t want to. Another thing to learn about Scottish football is that it’s very self-preserving. These clubs don’t see why they should join in the league structure and spend money they don’t need to on long, and often difficult to get to, away trips. That stops now with this new structure. All clubs are in it together, under one league system. Aiming big will be rewarded, and if you don’t want to progress, you’ll find yourself hurtling down the tiers.
The final bit of information around the new league structure is the squad rules. Clubs in the top three tiers have to submit 25-man squads, but players under the age of 21 that have been trained in Scotland do not have to be registered and can play at any time. There also needs to be a minimum of six Scottish homegrown players in each matchday squad. The tiers below that aren’t restricted in these ways. Big thanks to FMPressure, and also Acidphire21, for being there for any help or questions on the database so far.
Want a beta download of the database? Here you go! Please do let me know if you spot any errors and I’ll do my best to fix them. If you’ve got any suggestions too, let me know! Always happy to take thoughts and feedback on board. One thing I’d recommend if you do choose to go lower than Division Two, is ticking the “add players to playable clubs” option before you load your save. The vast majority of clubs in the lower tiers don’t have any real players in the original Scottish database.
Who will I be managing?
The third and final reveal, is the club I’ll be taking over on FM18 in this new structure for Scottish football. I’ll be hanging my CS emblazoned tracksuit top on the back of the managers office door at Stirling Albion’s Forthbank.
Welcome to Samo’s Stirling.
But why Stirling?
Firstly, sporting excellence is in Stirling’s DNA. I attended the University of Stirling, while other names associated with Stirling and sport include Sir Andy and Jamie Murray, Duncan Ferguson, Billy Bremner, Gary and Steven Caldwell, Scottish rugby international Kenny Logan, plus Olympic swimmer Robbie Renwick trained at the university. A relatively illustrious few I’m sure you’ll agree. I’ll go through a few aims related to this in a future update.
Secondly, Stirling Albion have never been close to achieving anything meaningful in Scottish football. They’ve been a perennial yo-yo club and, as far as I can see, haven’t played in the top flight of Scottish football since the 1960’s. I’m hoping to change that when I take over. With 16 tiers created, is it a bit of a cop out to start at the third tier? It might look like that to some and maybe if I had all the time in the world to play FM, I’d start right at the bottom and work my way up. I don’t though, so I’m not. Simples.
Thirdly, they’re not a sleeping giant as such, but I believe there’s real potential there to grow the club and get more fans through the turnstile. The city of Stirling has around 30-40,000 inhabitants, which rises to just under 100,000 when you include the surrounding local area too. It’s by no means one of the biggest cities or towns in Scotland, just inside the top twenty overall and is actually the least populated city in the country. Looking at the surrounding area though, there aren’t too many other clubs competing for the same fans. Of course, the edited database has activated some of the other clubs that play in the area, but there aren’t any major competitors for fans. The affluent surrounding areas of Bridge of Allan and Dunblane mixed in with some of the more working class areas within the city itself will be our targets as we look to attract a diverse fanbase to the 3,800 or so capacity Forthbank.
Growth is a must. Objective one, however, will be to not get sacked. FM18’s sackings are scaring me so far.
Finally to round off the introductory post, here’s our sweet looking Stirling kits from @FMFutbolManager, I’m full on in love with the away one.
Thanks for reading and I hope you join me for future updates from Samo’s Stirling. If you download and start a save on the database, let me know! Look out in the next few weeks for some more stuff around the database, including some team recommendations from yours truly!