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Football Manager 2017 will feature “four million different permutations relating to Brexit”

Fancy a hard Brexit?

Update October 19, 2016: Yesterday it transpired that Brexit will feature in Football Manager 2017. Turns out a LOT of different Brexits could rear their heads…

Miles Jacobson, director of Sports Interactive, confirmed to us that there will be “around four million different permutations” of the Brexit event in Football Manager 2017. Based on the three broad scenarios outlined yesterday (see below), FM 2017 will model dozens of further complexities, somehow arriving at this huge number of unique outcomes.

Fancy guiding your favourite team through Brexit? Here’s everything we know about Football Manager 2017.

These complexities range from changing the work permit system in the event of a harder Brexit, or moving toward the present Italian system under which there’s a cap on the number of non-EU players allowed in each squad, to leaving transfer rules relatively intact if your Brexit is softer. “Then there are possibilities that players you’ve currently got in the squad, including EU players, are told to go home,” says Jacobson. He’s even allowed for the possibility of Brexit causing Scotland and Northern Ireland to leave the union.

This all raises the question: what will determine how Brexit shakes out in each game? “There’s a percentage chance attached to each of the possibilities,” he says. “Ultimately, we can’t predict the future and so instead we throw every possible system in there and see what might happen.”

From a game developer known for attention to detail, who has accurately predicted the emergence of future footballing stars, this reads like a reassuring yet disappointing admission of mortality. “A lot of people in football have been asking to see what we’ve done in the game in order to see what the different possibilities, and subsequent answers, are.”

As it turns out, Jacobson doesn’t know either; Brexit will essentially be random in every game. Bad news for political pundits, but good news for FM fans; with four million possibilities, chances are you won’t see the same Brexit twice.

Original story October 18, 2016:If there’s one thing aspiring football managers definitely want more of in any simulation of their dream job, it’s politics. Their wishes will be granted with the latest edition of Football Manager, which will model the impact of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union on the player transfer market.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Sports Interactive studio director Miles Jacobson says “it wouldn’t have felt right” to leave the momentous event out of FM2017. For a series so famously comprehensive that it has been used by real-life managers to find new talent, the real surprise is that the impact of Iowan corn subsidies on imported Americans isn’t also modeled.

Much has been written in proper newspapers about the implications of Brexit on British football, chiefly because of how much harder it may become for non-UK players to obtain work permits. Despite all the speculation, nothing is certain because the Government is just beginning to work out which EU structures it wants to withdraw from. FM2017 will reflect this uncertainty with three different scenarios:

  • Soft Brexit – free movement of labour remains, and there is no impact on your transfer deals
  • Turgid Brexit – footballers are given similar special exemptions as entertainers, making it easier for them to obtain work permits than others
  • Hard Brexit – EU footballers will be treated similarly to those from outside of the EU

At some point between two and ten years into a game, players will be told that negotiations have begun, and a year later, will receive a bulletin outlining the form that Brexit will take. Obviously, the third scenario will seriously hurt your ability to recruit talent from the EU, limiting your transfer options and potentially making the game much harder. Jacobson points out that “if we already had these rules in place, players such as N’Golo Kante and Dimitri Payet would not have been able to gain work permits to move to the Premier League”.

There’s no certainty that even these existing rules for non-EU players will be extended. Jacobson says we might instead “adopt a system like Italy’s, where there is a limit on the number of non-EU players in each squad.”

That limit could range 17 to as few as four, which might lead to British players of only Championship quality filling sudden vacancies in the Premier League. This in turn might cause a drop in overall quality, and then in TV money, and then to a rise in transfer fees as limited slots at British clubs lead to even more fierce competition to attract foreign talent.

Perhaps Jacobson’s predictions explain the eagerness of that other football guru, David Cameron, to cite Premier League clubs as pro-Remain during the referendum campaign.

Football Manager 2017 releases on November 4.