How Companies, Club Ownership and the Stock Market work in Football President

In the upcoming release of Football President — you can login and create a character in the game, then witness our shallow “game world” play itself out as the game clock ticks through the seasons. Now, the next phase of development is centered around companies, club ownership and the game’s stock market system.

Companies are absolutely crucial to Football President. You can only start to hire employees, buy facilities and start trading once you create your own company. One of the first goals in Football President is to obviously own and manage a football club. But not having ownership of a club doesn’t mean the end of your involvement with the game world as you’ll see shortly!

So to begin, let me explain what kind of clubs are available for purchase. We currently simulate 7 nations — with all the top level leagues in those nations covered. So you could purchase Manchester United in the English Premier League or the rather obscure RKC Waalwijk in the Dutch Eerste Divisie. But you’ll notice when you download and create your character that the starting balance for your character is quite paltry and definitely not even enough to acquire RKC Waalwijk!

What gives?

Well the idea in Football President is that you’re competing with AI characters and other human players. The AI characters come from different backgrounds and have vastly different personalities. These range from multi millionaire characters (e.g. Roman Abramovich, Stan Kroenke, Silvio Berlusconi types) with access to huge amounts of finance all the way down to small time investors who hold a few shares for their pension pot!

Each character has different traits which lead to an overall personality type. You might have a “local-boy-done-well” type millionaire who simply pumps money into his club. He has no interest in expansion because his ambition levels are low. Likewise one of your small time investors might fancy himself as the next Warren Buffett. His aggression stats are probably off the charts and he’s the type to hold out for 5–8x his original share valuation in the midst of your buyout.

The human players of course add a completely different dynamic altogether.

So the reason for the small starting balance is that you have to effectively battle really hard for those elite prestigious clubs. At the start of the game, they will all be owned by AI characters but eventually hopefully those clubs will end up in human player hands. Owning and holding onto Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus or Manchester United is a real achievement in Football President.

The “Global Club Market” screen will allow you filter through all the football clubs in the game. You’ll be able to filter through the clubs and see at a glance which clubs are available for purchase

So I’m about to explain the concept of companies in more detail and what you can do in the game when you don’t already own a club. But before I do, I want to stress that club management is a big part of the game — so there will be “amateur” teams that you can purchase. These amateur teams are generated in each of the cities in the simulated nations. The cost of these clubs depend on whether they have facilities (e.g. stadium) and their earning potential (determined by the size of the club). But usually at the start of the game, there will be a few amateur clubs that are acquirable as long as you find an imaginative way to double or treble your starting balance.

Owning a profitable amateur club is certainly one way of growing your income and eventually buying a bigger club. But you don’t necessarily have to take the plunge straight away; by starting a company you’ll already be able to hire employees like scouts and coaches and of course buy facilities like training grounds.

The mock up above shows the company creation screen.

Creating a company is quite straightforward. You come up with a catchy name, decide where the company is based, choose the logo and finally you allocate how much of your current cash reserves you want to put into the company. So as a scenario, you might have £300k in your bank account and you decide to create a company and throw half your fortune at it. The company will have a starting balance of £150k with you owning all the shares as the sole owner.

Your company is “privately” held when you first create it. Although you can definitely get other people to invest in it. Say you and a few friends want to pool in together to buy a club. You would create the company and then sell whatever percentages of the shares you want to give them in exchange for their cash.

However once a company reaches a certain revenue level, you can also float the company on the stock market. To make the game a bit simpler, there’s only one stock exchange on which all the companies are listed. Once a company is publicly floated, a percentage of it’s shares are made available to the general public. This means the ownership of their shares can be traded at any time. It’s an interesting way of raising a lots of money very quickly (say for example you’ve taken over a rotten fallen giant of the game and you want to arm your manager with a war chest!) but the caveat is if you issue too many shares, you might lose control of the club completely.

If you’re not a business buff and the words MBA scare the living hell out of you, don’t worry! The key to controlling a club is simply owning more than 50% of it’s available shares. If nobody holds more than 50%, the club is controlled by an AI chairman (from the board). So as long as you buy up enough shares, you don’t really need to know what a price/earnings ratio is! ;)

One last thing to mention, when you create a company you also choose it’s “focus”. This can be changed at a later time and will be one of the following:

Training: Your company engages in training young players. You recruit local youngsters in the areas, give them adequate coaching and training facilities and hopefully a big club or agent will take an interest in one of your players.

Scouting: Your company will scour the globe looking for hot young talents. You earn your crust through deals with clubs or agents to provide your scouting recommendations.

Agency: You are a talent agency. You are Mr 15% and your job is to find exciting players to represent. You handle contract negotiations and take a small slice of the cake for your inconvenience.

Media: You noticed that Football President doesn’t do cutting edge journalism so you set up a news outlet. Other characters in the game can purchase your publication. You might produce match reports, transfer gossip and opinion pieces. And you’ll earn your crust by selling subscriptions to our players and offering advertising space to other companies in the game.

Diverse: Your company is an umbrella holding company for one or more of the above companies or you just haven’t decided a specific focus just yet.

Note: if you decide to set up a “Media” focused company, you get an instant bonus of 5x the starting balance to your company account*

*with some conditions!

I really want to encourage media companies because user generated content has the power to make the game world more interesting and richer.

Quick example: If you’ve developed a knack for beating the market on the stock exchange, you might decide to create a “Stock Tips and Investors Newsletter” and sell it at a premium price.

So as you can see, Football President is the ultimate sandbox game. There’s nothing stopping you from running your own training academy or an elite talent agency if you fancy.

Once you have created your company, you can start purchasing facilities and hiring staff.

Stadium: Once bought it can be rented out at a price to a club, maybe at cost for one of your own clubs. The market value of the stadium will fluctuate depending on the economical status of the city (and to a degree the country and global world economy) and the condition of the stadium. Comes with maintenance charges and tax burdens. Stadiums can be developed and expanded.

Training Ground: Like stadiums, you can rent out a training ground once you’ve purchased it. Or you can use it to recruit and train young players. Training grounds can be developed. Training grounds have maintenance costs.

Merchandise and Concession Outlets: Yes you can set up a club store and or a hot dog truck but it only makes sense once you own a club! Outlets come with running costs but also provide sales.

Offices: Required once you start employing staff. The size of your office dictates the number of staff you can hire.

There’s many different types of personnel that you can hire in Football President for a price. Some of the personnel are only recruitable if you own a club.

Players are mainly useful to the clubs since good players decide football games - but they can be traded at various points in the game. Clubs purchase players through transfer fees from other clubs and agents. Of course if a player is a free agent, he doesn’t come with a transfer fee but there’s always a sly agent somewhere looking for a cut!

Players enter the game through training academies. Academies have a recruitment budget. The quality and size of the catchment area and this recruitment budget results in yearly regens arriving at the club. These trainees can be signed to a contract so clubs and predatory agents will need to buy out the trainee’s contract in order to take him from you.

Players develop with training and their baseline stats and potential determine how far they go in the game. Eventually they’ll be spotted by a scout or an agent and then absorbed into the youth academy of a club. If you sign a player to a contract, you’ll agree a wage, bonuses and any contractual clauses with that player. Players do not use up office space.

Coaches are used to train players. You can hire different types of coaches: defensive, attacking, fitness and goalkeeping. The quality of the coach has an input into how good a player will develop. You can hire coaches for your football club or training facility and there’s different roles you can assign them to:

Example: Clubs, “Manager”, “Assistant Manager”, “Head of Youth Development”. Training Facility, “U13 Manager”, “U13 Coach”

Some of the coaching roles provide you with interesting interaction possibilities. For example, you interview for managers, hold press conferences when announcing them, set their expectations and manager their demands etc.

Physios are used to prevent and heal injured players. They can be hired at clubs or training facilities.

Scouts are used spot players in the game world. You have to pay for a scout’s travel expenditure as well their wages which limits their reach. Scouts don’t use up office space so this means you can have a global scouting network without having to buy an office in each country! You can hire scouts without needing to own a club or any training facilities.

Operations staff (for example janitors, shop staff and receptionists) don’t have to be micro managed and are handled by the game automatically. But as you grow larger, this shadow expenditure will swell which will need to be managed during lean recessionary periods.

Everything in Football President (except people!) is an asset. A stadium is an asset. A training ground is an asset. A club is an asset. Even a company can be an asset. So you can have a company consisting of several training grounds. Or you can package a club and a training ground, various offices etc. Or you can go conglomerate and have a company that owns various other subsidiary companies. The possibilities are endless.

The reason I mention this is because I want to illustrate how this opens up new game play possibilities. For example, imagine you’ve bought a club hemorrhaging money. It’s inevitable that you’ll go into administration soon. Can you create a new company, sell the training ground to it and asset strip the rest of the club before the liquidators are called in?

Will you then be a cunning devil and rent back the training ground to the club once it’s out of administration at a nominal cost? ;)

I think I’ve described most of the concepts in Football President at this point except for the stock market. The stock market is the one area in the game where it’s possible to make (and lose) huge amounts of fortune in a short amount of time!

I’ve tried to design the stock market so that’s it realistic but also simple to understand. In real life, there’s various stock exchanges, in our game there is simply one global stock exchange on which any company can float on. The currency and opening times are all the same.

You need to have a certain amount of revenue for your company before you can sell it’s shares publicly on this exchange as mentioned before.

In designing the stock market system we took inspiration from titles like Capitalism 2 and Rail Road Tycoon to find the best balance between realism and fun factor.

The idea of the stock market is really simple. You have to buy shares in companies when they are priced low and then sell them when they increase in price.

Each company that floats on the market has a ticker symbol. You can filter through all the public companies in the game by nation and valuation.

As you can imagine, a lot of work will go into making the stock market react to the events in a game (if Dortmund were on the verge of relegation, their stock price would take a severe tumble). The actions of the stock market also has an effect on itself. So it you suddenly start selling a huge amount of stocks (or purchasing them) — it has an impact on the stock price.

In a privately held company, you approach the individual investor and see if he’s willing to make a sale. In a publicly held company — providing there’s publicly available shares, you can make an immediate purchase.

It’s possible to avoid all the other aspects of the game and simply spend your time buying and selling shares. It’s also a way that you can substantially improve that starting balance so it might prove to be an attractive option for some type of players!

The next release is going to start adding parts of the design I’ve explained above into the game. You’ll be able to create companies and start purchasing clubs. In the meantime, tomorrow we have a release of a new client to give you a better look at the UI of the game.

Release notes can be found here:

and of course we’d love you to attend the live release event, you can RSVP for that as well!

Finally you can stay in touch with the development progress on Facebook and of course Twitter!

Football President

Football President Development Blog

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Online Multiplayer Football Club Ownership Game (In Development)

Football President

Football President Development Blog