This post covers FC Lorient’s ‘business end’ of Season 3 (2020/21) in Ligue 1 and delves into finances, as Achilles Goss approaches the crossroads with Brittany’s number 1 club. This financial report is partly in response to Dan Gear’s repeated boasting about his own cash rich Kaiserslautern side…in the Bundesliga, one of the wealthiest leagues on the planet.
The purpose of this post is to set the scene, as I approach a pivotal moment in Lorient’s and Achilles Goss’ shared histories. I have therefore decided to split this post into two parts. Part 1 (this one), will retrospectively look back at the previous three year’s finances…in order to draw up a few objectives for the future (which I hope can be realised in Part 2). Of course, watch my careful plans implode due to bad form once I begin my 4th season. But anyway, let’s begin…
The final few months of Season 3 were a pretty painful experience. The match engine updated at the end of January 2021 in my save, which coincided with our worst run of form. It’s hard to know if my tactic became less effective for that reason, or we just hit a bad patch. The long shots from my midfielders are definitely toned down, and my Deep Lying Forward is integrating more in our build up (good news…but remember this also makes the AI slightly better too)! I think a combination of some of these factors contributed to our end of season dip. Boooo.
I shouldn’t be too downbeat though (I was at the time), I am still way above where I thought I’d be three years into this save. We achieved promotion at the first attempt and now find ourselves with back-to-back 7th placed Ligue 1 finishes. The Lorient fans have it good: Achilles Goss has signed a new one-year deal until Summer 2021!
The Glass Ceiling: Finances
At a high-level view, there’s a lot to be positive about by Lorient’s financial and on-pitch performances over the last three years. We’ve seen a 158% growth in revenue since the start of the save, which has funded a promotion and back-to-back top 10 finishes. In the last two years, we’ve met an Operating Index (Revenue divided by Costs) of around 100%, meaning we are “wiping our faces” in a budgetary sense. Furthermore, we are 17th in the salary table (circa €15m per annum), showing that we are punching above our salary weight by 10 places. All good, right?
However, it’s only until you look into the detail when you realise that FC Lorient have reached the glass ceiling (noun: an unacknowledged barrier to advancement in a profession). The glass ceiling is simple: Lorient’s organic revenue has largely plateaued. For instance, Ligue 1 Gate Receipts and Match Day Income are the same year-on-year…with the club selling out the Stade du Moustoir 36 times out of a possible 38 during the two years of top league French football.
Despite TV revenue being a big earner for us (46% of Season 3’s revenue), and a major growth area, stuff like Sponsorship is down. The only other income stream with real potential is Player Sales, which is something we have done well in over recent years (see the Fonsinho deal)…but not something that is always dependable, infinite or steady. The devil really is in the detail.
In terms of costs, the worrying figures are that of Agent Fees and Player Wages, which go hand-in-hand with how I use the Director of Football (DoF) staff role in FM19. Like the aforementioned Dan Gear, I am using a DoF for player recruitment. I identify the target and add him onto the DoF’s Transfer Target list. Once the fee is agreed the DoF will negotiate the contracts too, meaning I have the simple task of either accepting/rejecting the deal on completion. I’m sure the same deals could be conducted just as well by the human player, if not better, but it does speed up my gameplay somewhat.
In addition to player recruitment, my DoF is also responsible for player retention. He will actively go out and offer contracts to the playing squad and negotiate deals based on squad status and contract expiry. The method has allowed me to tie down some of my star players like Rivaldo Coetzee & Julien Ponceau. But it should come with a word of warning, after seeing my wage bill rise 50% in 3 years.
The above paints a very stark picture for the future of my DoF’s responsibilities, but it’s perhaps the below charts that further show the season by season comparisons effectively. A bar chart paints a thousand words:
So, what can I draw from this bit of VirginFM financial analysis:
We’ve hit the revenue plateau for a bit (until we break into Europe).
Despite an Op. Index of 100%, we need to aim a bit higher (let’s say 120%), in order to build a reserve for off/on pitch improvements.
Wages concern me. We’re now at the cliff edge.
What will I now do?
Sell-to-buy (I mean there isn’t really much choice). But I’ll cover what I am looking for in Part 2. I need to recruit to a playing style, profile a player what they can bring to a collective system (TBC - as I relentlessly stare at my squad and the tactics screen).
Remove the responsibility for offering contractual renewals from the DoF. This is where he has largely been at fault for offering deals too early (before 18 months expiry) and for too much (incl. to Agents). 17th in the salary table…I need to keep it this way.
‘Change’. A nice blanket team for all facets of the club, but whichever way I look at it, the status quo cannot continue. We can’t break into Europe like this, it’s too risky. FM Grasshopper, and Achilles Goss, rarely take risks.
Dan Gear now has the Achilles Goss financial analysis that he so desperately needed. Perhaps he’ll be thankful for residing on the right side of the Rhein, or maybe he will continue to troll France’s most underappreciated Football Manager. Who knows?
The next post will deal more on recruitment and tactics side as I am looking to change things up from Season 4. The glass ceiling needs to be broken, right?
Thanks for reading/sharing/caring.