What if — all football clubs from former Yugoslavian countries receive a €300m cash injection?
I have traveled to a couple of the former Yugoslavian countries and I have to say that they are very charming and great places to visit! (and not only because of the cheap beers). Unfortunately, while having recovered from the many wars and political disputes (have they really?), you do notice that the countries are still developing as opposed to the richer countries in western Europe.
Looking at football, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. On a national level it’s going pretty good, with the obvious one being Croatia, who made it to the World Cup final last year! Bosnia-Herzegovina is also doing great, topping their group in the European Nations League B.
In the next tier, we have Slovenia, Serbia, and Montenegro in Nation League-C. Serbia won the group earning a spot in League B, and Slovenia, unfortunately, got relegated to League D.
At last, there are two “new” countries in the UEFA. North Macedonia basically got a new name and Kosovo got a brand new UEFA membership. Both teams won their groups in Nations League D!
On a club level, there’s a lot of room for improvement, which is one of the main goals for this simulation. Especially for Red Star Belgrade (FK Crvena Zvezda), Champions League winners in 1991! While the club has had some minor recent success kicking Liverpool’s butt in the CL, it’s still a former shadow of itself.
I visited Belgrade earlier this year and while I was there I went to one of the matches in the massive Rajko Mitić Stadium. The atmosphere was pretty insane on one of the stands but the stadium was only filled 1/4rds. So where did all the passionate fans go? Well, according to my taxi driver this is because Belgrade used to be the football capital of Yugoslavia and people would come from all around the country to view a match. So when all the countries split off, so did the fans…
Other then Red Star the are some other big clubs in the countries like Partizan (Red Star’s fierce rivals), Dinamo and Rijeka in Croatia, and Maribor in Slovenia.
As some of you might now, in Football Manager 2019, the youth rating of a country (+ the quality of the club’s academies, coaching, youth intake, determination/professionalism, tutoring, and the head of youth development) has quite a big impact on the quality of the players when simulating theories like the one we’re doing right now. One country that’s completely missing this attribute is Kosovo. It doesn’t even have a low reputation, it’ll be random (and probably quite low) as far as I know. I thought about changing this before the start of the sim to be similar to Macedonia, but quite frankly I forgot, so let’s see what happens!
The youth rating of the other countries is pretty much in the middle. Serbia is actually slightly better than Croatia so perhaps we will see a successful World Cup like Croatia’s run sooner than later. Both countries’ youth rating is similar in quality as Ghana’s and Iran.
Bosnia and Slovenia are quite a bit lower on the list and have the same rating, similar to N. Ireland, Austria, and Senegal.
North Macedonia can be compared to Guinea and Togo and is slightly better than Montenegro who is on the same level as China and Bolivia.
Luckily, all the clubs in these countries will get a nice amount of cash to invest in better youth academies!
Only the Serbian, Croatian and Slovenian leagues were present in FM19 to manage, so we had to see if the other leagues were created by someone for the Steam Workshop, and they were!
Of course, we wanted to make sure that the reputation of these leagues wasn’t iffy because some local fan overvalued them but it seems that steam user “ claassen “ did a very good job at giving shape to the leagues. At the start of the game they are currently ranked on the following position, based on their reputation:
One league that sticks out to me is the Bosnian one. It’s doing much better than Slovenia and Macedonia on a national level but the league is not as good compared to those two.
Kosovo is all the way down as expected, it’ll be interesting to see how they and Montenegro will spend all their cash!
To fund all 78 clubs at the top level of each country, we require a small investment of 23,4 Billion euros, which means we’re pumping the GDP of Bosnia and Macedonia combined into a bunch of football clubs, I’m sure the citizens will love that!
Technically this means that we created a sponsor for every club who pays out 100 million per year for 3 years, starting on June 2019.
Other than that and adding the workshop leagues we changed nothing.
At the start of the game we’ve added almost all other big footballing countries as “View Only”, and then we started simulating for a 100 years until June 2118!
We’ve made a couple of predictions for fun and will see at the end if they worked out:
- One of Serbia or Croatia will win the World Cup
- Slovenia will become better than Bosnia on a national level because Maribor will use their funding to create awesome youth players!
- Montenegro, Macedonia, and Kosovo will make to Nation’s League B
- Kosovo will have teams playing European competitions regularly
- Kosovo will make it to the top 50 in World Ranking at some point in the next 100 years
- A Serbian team will win the CL
- A Croatian team will win the Euro cup.
Year 4 and the First World Cup
By now, every team (78 of them) has received their 300 million each, 100 million per year until 2021.
How did it impact the clubs so far? Well, as we expected some of them have been spending some of that cash!
A recurring theme we are seeing is that the bigger clubs like Dinamo and Red Star are bringing local talent back from European clubs for inflated prices, like Kalacia from Benfica, which Dinamo paid 10.25m for in 2020.
We also see a lot of traffic between the teams within countries, but also between the teams from all the former Yugoslavian countries. The reason is likely the multiple (similar) languages that most players speak in that area.
We haven’t seen really massive transfers yet though. Dinamo even sold their biggest talents Dani Olmo and Antonio Marin to Spurs and Barca.
In Croatia, the biggest transfer so far if Vitaliy Mykolenko from Dynamo Kyiv for a price of 26,5M. In Serbia, Partizan brought Gudelj back to his home country from China’s Guangzhou for 22M and put him on € 105k/week.
Some other interesting transfers were Tadic to Red Star, Scott McTominay (yeah..) to Radnicki for 6,25M, one of Croatia’s biggest talents Miro Rodin moved to the 5th team in Slovenia, and Slovenian club Aluminij bought an ok -ish defender Michele Sego from Croatian club Hajduk for 17,5m, sheesh!
The small countries behaved pretty well, no more then a million has been paid as a transfer fee for a player in Kosovo and Montenegro. Some wages are already getting out of hand though as you can see in the screenshots below. Let’s hope they’re wise enough to invest in some of the youth facilities as well!
No surprises here so far, none of the clubs have made it further than the first knock-out round of the Euro Cup
The World Cup of 2022 was won by Argentina on penalties against title holders France, (without Messi, poor guy). Our former Yugoslavian countries didn’t perform that well. Bosnia and Serbia didn’t make it out of the group stage and Croatia lost to France in the quarter-final. Costa Rica did make it to the semi-finals somehow!
Year 15: Growth
So, how about those facilities? Did the clubs finally spend some money on those instead of inflated wages?
The answer is yes! We had a closer look at Dinamo, Hadjuk, and the two biggest clubs from Montenegro and Kosovo: Prishtina and Sutjeska.
Prishtina managed to upgrade its stadium to fantastic conditions and go from average youth and training facilities to above average and great!
Dinamo upgraded their stadium capacity to 43k and now has superb training facilities. Hajduk went from everything good to very good or excellent.
Overall very exciting results, this bodes well for the future!
It seems that most of the clubs kept a good hold on their finances, the majority of the clubs of the small countries are still considered “rich” by FM, while none of the clubs from Croatia, Serbia or Slovenia are “rich” except the top 3 clubs of Croatia.
Looking a bit closer at one of the “rich” Croatian clubs, Dinamo in this case, we can see that they keep an overall balance of about 150mil, which is very great. They seem to finance this by consistently selling good players and not spending that cash directly on overpriced 30y-olds. In 2030/32 they made a massive 225M!
The highest transfers we’ve seen so far are
Croatia: Boris Bertosa from Slaven Belupo (CRO) to Dinamo for 42M
Serbia: Maximilian Philipp from Dortmund to Red Start for 24,5M
Slovenia: Michele Sego from Hajduk (CRO) to Alumnij for 12M
All of these expensive transfer have been between year 3 and 8. It seems that the money for big transfers like this ran out pretty quickly…
The small countries are still not spending much on transfers, as their league’s reputation is likely still not high to attract these kind of players. Hopefully, they’re still investing in facilities to grow big in the future
By 2032 there have been some shifts in Club and League reputation. Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia are slowly crawling up with Serbia becoming a top 10 league in terms of reputation. A big contrast with the 27th spot they had back in 2018!
Macedonia and Bosnia have actually regressed while Montenegro and Kosovo stayed pretty much the same.
The clubs have increased quite a bit overall. While Red Star, Partizan, and Dinamo already had 3,5 stars, there are some new additions to that list plus a lot more 3 and 2,5-star clubs.
Still no big breakthrough within the European competitions. It’s definitely improving but we haven’t seen a club progress to the quarter-finals of either European competition yet. Partizan is currently the highest-ranked in the 34th spot on the coefficients list next to Dinamo on 35th, Red Star on 58th, and Maribor on 72th.
Year 50: The Curious Case of Kosovo
49 years have passed and our beloved Croatia and Serbia are actual contenders in Europe now, taking spots 6 and 7 in the most prestigious leagues of Europe!
And who is that at spot 15 in the list? Kosovo! How did that come to happen?
We did some digging in the last 50 years and it appears that Kosovo’s financial management is great! Where countries like Montenegro and Macedonia spend their 300 mil on ridiculous wage, Kosovo’s clubs (especially their best club FC Prishtina) spend their cash on slightly less ridiculous wages and more importantly: their facilities. Keeping their head above water long enough for the top teams to regularly qualify for the European competitions, creating a nice cash flow.
It has finally happened, and not by Dinamo! Hajduk has won the 2059/60 champions league in the “London Stadium”. And it wasn’t an easy one, the team beat Liverpool, PSV, Hoffenheim, PSF, Milan, and Man City to get there. Amazing result!
We can see the influence of our investment in that same Champions League year. 3 Croatian Clubs, 1 Serbian and 1 Kosovan club participated.
Overall the teams have been performing well in Europe the first 50 years, making it out of the CL groups plenty of times. Other then the win in 2060, Hajduk was also the runner up in ’61, losing to Barca, and Vojvodina made it to the quarter-finals in ‘65.
In the Euro Cup (Europe League) there was some success for Hajduk again, winning it in ’67 and being runners up two times earlier. Vojvodina won it in ’60 and was runners up one time as well.
On the world stage?
Some surprises on an international level. Slovenia got very close to winning the European Football Championship in ’64, losing to Italy in the finals on penalties. Croatia got 3rd in the World Cup in ’42, unable to replicate their run in 2018 thus far.
The world rankings as of now are:
Year 100: Croatian world domination
2 World cup gold, 1 silver, and one bronze. The experiment has been a success!
For Croatia at least, the country has been performing incredibly well after the initial investment, feeding the national team with fantastic homegrown youth.
Serbia ended it up in a respectable 29th spot worldwide, their highest was 14th at some point.
The other countries:
Slovenia 37, highest 23
Bosnia 50, highest 24
Kosovo 67, highest 59
Montenegro 64, highest 41 (first season 2018)
N- Macedonia 74, highest 58
Who retained their wealth?
In the “rich” list we only find countries from Kosovo (3) and Croatia (7!). Prishtina is still one of them, keeping their balances in check by qualifying for the European competitions regularly
There have been some crazy transfers in the last 100 years. Hajduk bought a Japanese player Yuki Yoshida for €127M from Liverpool in 2090, which was the highest transfer paid by a Croatian club. In Serbia, the highest transfer paid by a club was €44M, but the highest player transferred out of Serbia cost €154M!
Europe: Croatia and Serbia are here to stay!
In the years after their wins in the ’60s, Hajduk had continued success in Europe and is now considered one of the best clubs in the world with Dinamo. The clubs are closely followed in both ranking and reputation by a wealth of other Croatian and Serbian clubs as you can see in the screenshots.
The Champions Cup has been won 3 times now by Hadjuk (4 times runner up) and once by Dinamo! Rijeka did very well in the Europa cup winning it 3 times. Istra 1961 won it once, Vojvodina twice, Hajduk thrice. Plenty runner ups from Serbia and Croatia too!
Before we go to our conclusion, here’s an overview of the league reputations. As you can see Croatia and Serbia are considered better than Italy and Germany now, with the Slovenian, Bosnian and Kosovan leagues doing very well too!
Conclusion: What if — all clubs in former Yugoslavian countries get a massive cash injection?
As Gattuso would say: “Sometimes maybe good, sometimes maybe shit”
In this case the “maybe shit” were North Macedonia and Montenegro. Both countries weren’t able to handle all that cash and never really rose up in the rankings for club or country.
Bosnia didn’t do great either, except for Zrinjski who actually qualifies regularly for the Champions Cup. The country also managed to get to the semi-finals of the European Championship once!
Slovenia did very well, both club and country. None of their clubs are doing better then Zrinjski but all of the clubs that got a cash injection are still very reputable. Maribor did drop off however and got overtaken by 6 other Slovenian clubs.
Serbia did very well, being a very reputable league and getting results in the European competitions. The majority of the clubs in the SuperLeague have a worldwide reputation except for Red Star, who have not been doing as good as we expected!
The two winning countries in our opinion are Croatia and Kosovo! Croatia’s results speak for themselves. World Cup winners and multiple Champions Cup (CL) and Euro Cup (EL) winners. Dinamo and Hajduk are on the same level Man United and Atletico Madrid now, and all the other clubs continue to create great talents for the national team.
Kosovo’s results were completely unexpected to us. Coming from nothing to being a very reputable competition who qualifies for European Competitions every year, great money management!
One of Serbia or Croatia will win the World Cup
Yes, Croatia won it twice!
Slovenia will become better than Bosnia on a national level because Maribor will use their funding to create awesome youth players!
Partially: Slovenia did become better overall but certainly not because of Maribor!
Montenegro, Macedonia, and Kosovo will make it to League B of the European Nations League
There’s actually no way to properly check the highest ranking a country had ever had in the league, but as of now, neither of these countries are in it!
Kosovo will have teams playing European competitions regularly
Yes, Prishtina qualifies pretty much every year for the Champions or Euro cup!
Kosovo will make it to the top 50 in World Ranking at some point in the next 100 years
They got very close but no. Highest was 59.
A Serbian team will win the CL
A Croatian team will win the Euro cup.
A Serbian team won the Euro cup and a Croatian team won the CL!
That it guys, hope you enjoyed the read! If you have any questions or screenshots requests then please leave a message in the comments!
Originally published at https://theoryoffootball.com on July 10, 2019.