My FM18 Save: Samo’s Stirling

I’ve introduced you to the new structure of Scottish football, briefly touched on who I’ll be taking over and even more briefly touched on why I would be. Now it’s time to dig a bit deeper into the why and what exactly I’ll be aiming for whilst in charge of Stirling Albion on FM18.

Let me just quickly summarise for you what I mentioned in my introductory post about why I wanted to take on Stirling as my FM18 challenge:

  • Sporting excellence is in the city’s DNA.
  • They don’t have much history of note at the top of Scottish football.
  • I believe there’s real potential there to grow the club, plus there’s no major competitors for fans in the immediate surrounding area.

These three why’s give me an almost blank canvas as to how I want to shape the club and move it forward.

Most of the things I love to play this game for are intangible. They’re things that aren’t really in the game, that you can’t see in front of you. Building up a club in a city or town. Those positive feelings and that success you bring in turn improving the perception of the club within it’s local area, and as such, more fans start coming to matches. I imagine the club reaching out across the local community to promote itself. Players going in to local primary and secondary schools to attract the next generation of fans to the club. Yes, we might have a city rival with the name Stirling University, but that doesn’t mean the club can’t work alongside the university to use it’s resources. Top class training facilities, player and coaching education and hiring talented graduates (of which I’m one ?) to improve the club’s business, commercial and sponsorship activities too. I imagine the club getting coverage in the press for it’s unique approach to the game, being at the forefront of the latest innovations in football. Once you’ve reached a certain stature domestically, you start to look abroad and grow the club by those means too. Developing the club into a brand, more than just a football club.

This narrative I make up in my head around my save can relate to things in-game in some ways though. Firstly, the club has to become professional, up from it’s current semi-professional status. Winning matches, gaining promotions and winning silverware all surround the club in a positive light, and usually the attendance grows as a result. Forthbank is currently a hub of community activity, that will continue once we fully own the stadium and look to increase it’s capacity to suit demand. Once we’re in different divisions, I want to develop an affiliate link with Stirling University to send my loan players there. The club’s junior, youth, training, sports scientist and data analysis facilities are all in need of an upgrade, with the eventual aim for them to be best in class.

We’ll have scouts scouring for talented players we can bring in, give a platform to develop as players and people with the eventual aim being to sell them on for more than we bought them for. If I’m lucky enough to get the club to a position where it’s challenging at the upper echelons of Scottish football, this will give the board and it’s executives the ability to then look further afield to grow the club, by signing up new sponsors, foreign affiliates and creating a network the club can tap in to for players, scouting knowledge and marketing benefits.

I’m mentioning all this, but the immediate aim is survival. I don’t mean survival in the sense that the club is in dire straits and might go to the wall. I mean that right now, we’re by no means in the position as a club to start splashing cash on stadium upgrades, improving facilities and signing up global affiliates. The financial side of the Scottish football in the top couple of tiers has been improved, success in our first few seasons will certainly bring us more money than it would have done before the restructure. However, I don’t predict us doing anything of note on this side of things until we’ve maintained our place in the newly resurrected SPL, at least.

On the staff side of things, continual improvement will be the aim. Our players are currently on part time contracts, living year to year. The same for our backroom staff too. It’s the way of clubs in the lower leagues of Scottish football. Success isn’t guaranteed. Positive relationships are put to one side. Forward planning is a dirty phrase and handing out three or four year contracts down in the depths is unheard of. Limiting our talent pool by only looking for players with certain qualities? We need all the help we can get. It’s dog eat dog, ruthless. Once we go professional, we can take things from there. In the immediate term, we just need to be smarter at recruiting than our league rivals, which, of course, is something we’ll be continually aiming for.

The journey starts in Scottish Division Two (S2). Due to the previous season’s final league positions before league reconstruction, we’re one of the better teams in the division and are 6-1 favourites to win it. The minimum board expectation is that we get promoted via winning the league. Not exactly the fly under the radar, under-promise/over-deliver start I usually prefer when I take over a club. Once the first season is out of the way, and we hopefully achieve promotion, that’s when the fun starts.

Thanks for reading, all thoughts welcome and I hope you’ll join me as I look to build and grow the club!

#FMSlack

If you aren’t sure what FMSlack is, it’s a platform quite similar to Discord, a forum and a website all rolled into one. Over 1,300 have decided to join it so far across 2017, and with FM18 being released over the last few weeks, there’s loads of discussions and debates to get involved in around the new game. If you want to join up, just click the Slack image above!

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