Mar 6, 2013
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So I am the manager of Linfield in Northern Ireland. I decided to manage this team as they were by far the biggest and best equipped team in this league, with a big stadium, and relatively good team and facilities when compared with others in the league. You may ask "Where is the challenge in that?", well domestically, there isn't one; I won the double in my first season and did a domestic clean sweep (they have 5 trophies in NI) in my second season, and I am on course to do the same in March in the 3rd season. The opposition are so weak I can field 1 1/2 star youngsters/backup players and win against my main rivals.

The challenge however is with the Dynamic league reputation system which has been in the FM series for a couple of years now. The aim in this save was to dominate domestically, as this is the bread and butter of any save, and to then try and put up a fight in European competition. First season, I managed to hold Anderlecht to 0-0 home and away in the Champions league play off match, only to be beaten on Penalties, I was heartbroken until I realised I was paid £1.8m for losing, and a further £2.0m for competing in the Europa league groups; game-changing money for a club with turnover at that stage of around £500,000 (by far the largest in NI, also). I repeated this feat second season as well, getting destroyed 7-2 on aggregate by Celtic in the same game, and actually coming 2nd in the group which had Lyon, BATE and Dinamo in it, only to be beaten in the first knockout round.

All the while I have been upgrading my training facilities, youth facilities, junior coaching, staff, and of course playing staff (total spend so far roughly £1.5m on transfer fees, and wage bill up from a meagre £8k a week to nearly £38k a week).

This season, with investment in players such as Aaron Hughes, Martin Patterson, Scott Wagstaff, Tom Carroll, Paul Digby, Colin Coates, Mesca, Jake Kean amongst many others (I only have roughly 5-6 of my original squad left; the rest is vastly improved), We managed to beat BATE Borisov in the Champions League playoff and were paid a full £9m for competing in the group stages, game-changing money which allows me to continue our progress.

But for all Linfields' success as an individual club, the Danske bank Premier League in itself has only slightly increased in reputation, and is in fact still only 1 1/2 star, still lower than NPower league 2 in rep. This is in spite of the wonders I have done, and continue to do, for Northern Irelands UEFA coefficient. We should be in the top 25 next season, and If I can continue to get Europa league group stages for the next 2-3 seasons, we should hit the top 15 for this.

But here is my Dilemma, Whilst Linfield are single handedly dragging NI up the UEFA rankings, the other teams in our league continue on the same wage bills, with the same sponsorship, the same mediocre players and most importantly the same attendances (I somehow lost a game 4-0 to Coleraine away, their attendance was 196!!!!). The other teams who are getting Europa league places keep on getting knocked out at the first hurdle as they are so weak, and if just one of them could make the group stage, the £2.0m would hopefully be spent on players from other NI teams and so would trickle down to grassroots level and help build the league from the ground up.

You may ask: "Why haven't you bought from other Northern Irish teams then?", and the answer is because very few/no players in the league are better than 2 star for me, and so I am better served buying from England or Bosman deals. However, buying domestically at vastly inflated prices may be the only answer as I seek to improve the reputation, sponsorship and attendances in our league.

This is probably the most interesting save I've had, as unlike every other game I've played, my focus is firmly on the medium to long term rather than short term success.

Please share your experiences and opinions on this challenge, I'm eager to see what you think of it and what I can do to help bring our league higher reputation. Also another thing that bites me, does league sponsorship/TV revenue EVER change?

The past two years people have had the same experience you're having. A few of them baught poor players from their rivals to inject cash into them and others outright went and managed them to make them better. I think if you check out the old story threads, ones on Croatia and Poland come to mind, you'll be able to see how they made their respective leagues top 5 eventually. I think it was a combination of both, they would buy their rivals players to inject cash into the clubs and eventually manage them to make them much better in Europe.

I'm pretty sure league sponsorship and tv revenue change, but its over a long period of time and requires you to really be high on the UEFA rankings.
I'll definitely consider buying players from my rivals then, come the summer. Also I could loan fringe players to them to help them qualify for Europe's group stage next season. I genuinely hope that if they qualify, the £2.0m would be spent on improvements the same way we have, rather than left in the balance to gradually decrease. I guess it depends on their propensity to spend and invest.

As for the leagues rep, I hope getting into the CL group stage and signing big name players like Aaron Hughes, Patterson and Carroll will give it a big boost next season but is reputation calculated more as an average of the league, or on individual club success? I fear that if its an average, it may take a very long time for it to grow.
League reputation is based on the UEFA coefficients, aka the combined performance of your league the last 5 years in continental competitions, so it does take a while to grow.
Indeed it does. I think you also have to switch between the teams in your country to make other teams better too. Then you have at once a second challenge: to win the league with multiple teams. :D Didn't try this yet but planning to do this in Holland.
Interesting, so If I manage to qualify for at least the Europa groups most seasons (which usually involves beating a Faroes, Albanian and a Belarussian team), we will stay in the top 25 for UEFA coefficients and hopefully grow the league every season that is the case.
I would consider moving to another club to get them up to the standard of challenging the team you have built at Linfield. This becomes a challenge in itself to try and surpass the legacy you created before. You can always return to Linfield at a later date if the opportunity arises again.

If you want to stay at Linfield. You could look at adding a second manager? Although this would obviously double your season play through time. Just a thought.
Guys I'm reluctant to play as 2 teams, and at the moment, I feel like I haven't reached the limit with Linfield, as we can still improve and the youth team is churning out players who if I can somehow get to our rivals, will boost our league
Not sure if this is much help but I have done something similar with Celtic (dead easy I know). In my first season, I got through to the Semi's of the CL, don't have a clue how but I managed to ride my luck the whole time, only to be put out by Arsenal on away goals. However, that made no difference on the co-efficient or rating of the SPL.

I made it my goal to get the SPL back into people's mind again so set upon winning the Champion's League. The next season I got a big transfer budget due to my success and strengthened the team drastically. But I won the Champion's League that season and finally there was change in the co-efficient. The SPL was granted 2 more qualifying places in the Europa League and 1 more qualifying place in CL as well as 1 team going straight into the group stages (obviously me).

But the whole idea of getting the SPL more recognition and making Celtic into a European superpower kept me going as the domestic side gets really boring.

Like you said about loaning players out to other teams, I did something similar in that I would sign a young regen, say about 16/17 and loan them to teams as they were far better than the rest of their team but it meant they could put up a challenge, I would also sell my older players that I had replaced like Stokes, Wilson and Commons to them as well, so the overall standard of the league improved. The season after, St Mirren got to the quarters of the Europa League and Hibs got into the Champion's League group stages.

Hope this helps ha.
The coefficient is cumulative, so don't think that doing well in one season is enough, its over 5 seasons and one team alone can't really get a league above 3 stars or so.

One thing that would be interesting is to take a poor league and change the chairmen of like 5 or 6 of the teams to have really high ambitions, but be very patient. And then take one of those teams and make it a powerhouse, it would be interesting to see how the other chairmen react to how well you're doing.

But yea, loaning out your best youngsters is great for their growth and the growth of the league. That's a great idea to make everything better.
I'd suggest sticking with Linfield for awhile, perhaps getting them as far as you can, and then joining another team in the league, because it's difficult to get the other teams to improve without money, and without a decent manager they won't get very far in Europe.
best way to do it without outright cheating is to continue the success you are having yourself, and when it comes to youth intake time find a few young players from the other teams in your division and approach to sign them and pay the compensation, its small money but after a few years in your youth team you can loan them back to their respective clubs.. its an absolute ballache but its a much better way than paying overinflated prices and actually will help improve the standard of young players considering that your facilities will be miles ahead of everybody elses.
People have done it with managing just one club but giving some helping hands to the AI.
I done something similar to this in Northern Ireland, spent 20 seasons churning out the youth players, loaning them to rivals, buying from Northern Irish team only...I managed to win the Champions League after 15 years or so after a number of attempts getting to the groups / early knockouts - I found that the rival teams, while they did have more money eventually, were not keen to spend it as they did not have high enough club reputations to attract better players.

The league rep increased quite a bit, and I did get the NI winners to qualify straight in to the group stages & second place going in to one of the latter qualifying rounds. We also had 3 teams going in to the Europa League at different stages. While my facilities were some of the best in the world in the end, other teams in the league had barely improved. I ended up taking control of Coleraine and taking them to Champions League group stages, but the game lost it's appeal shortly after.

That was FM 12 but I haven't tried the same since - I had a go with Sydney in the A-League (went well apart from the salary cap) and with NY Red Bulls (I didn't take to MLS rules so easily and quit a few seasons in). My next go will be in one of the big cities in Central / Eastern Europe, but Northern Ireland is the dream one day