Football Manager 2021: Release date, beta, new features, licences, leagues, tactics, transfer market, & more

What can armchair managers expect to find in Sports Interactive’s next instalment of the manager sim?

Toby Durant by Toby Durant
football manager 21 fm21

Football Manager has been a safe-haven for many fans during the coronavirus lockdown that has paused all major European leagues.

FM20 was a huge hit when it arrived last year. With plenty of new features and a repositioning toward long-term managerial success rather than short-term goals it has kept players engaged.

But that doesn’t mean that some aren’t looking forward to the next title.

So what could we see in Football Manager 2021?



Projected release date

Football Manager 2020 cover
WINNER: FM20 is a great game, will FM21 be even better?

All being well, Football Manager 2021 should be out in November.

The game has moved around from early to late November, but it is always in that month.

READ MORE: Football Manager 2020 Tactics: Best formations to use

Of course, this supposes that Sports Interactive don’t suffer any delays due to the coronavirus lockdown and developers working from home.

Football Manager 2021 Beta

As usual, the beta should arrive a few weeks before the game is released.

It will give fans a chance to mass-test the game, but as always allow you to roll over your save when the full game is released.

Hopefully, we’ll get a beta in October.


There were official Arsenal and Valencia versions of FM20 that fans could buy, but as ever licences were an issue for a lot of leagues.

There is no getting around Juventus’ three-year deal with PES, so be ready for Zebre to make a return to Serie A in FM21.

READ MORE: FM20 Wonderkid Goalkeepers

However, it would be nice for Sports Interactive to continue building up their official team versions. Or just go all-out and get proper licences for the Premier League and other leagues. Some players currently download face and logo packs to avoid playing with odd badges and silhouette players.


New features

Code of Conduct in FM20
WARN THEM: The clear new system avoided angering players

FM20 saw the introduction of the Club Vision, Code Of Conduct, and Tactical Insights. A lot of these were small tweaks to help accessibility for new players or streamline some processes that had been frustrating the experienced managers.

FM20 was a well-polished game, and received strong reviews. There doesn’t feel like there is much that needs to be added to make your managerial life more realistic.

READ MORE: FM20 – All the best midfielders (DM, MC, AMC)

There are still some match engine issues like players taking shots from ridiculous angles or the classic “terrible run of form striking from out of nowhere” that should be ironed out.

It would be nice to see more focus on the training ground, and make that area of the game a bit more easy to navigate.

Transfer market

The transfer market is always a tricky one in Football Manager games. Big teams quickly accrue All-Star squads and suck up elite talent at a rapid rate. Money flies back and forth between Man City, PSG, Barcelona, and Liverpool, but even if you take over one of the clubs the cash never seems to come to you.

It can still be incredibly tricky to get a fair market price for your players. While you are continuously quoted ludicrous sums for a young goalie or rotational full-back.

Giving managers a more level playing field in the transfer market would be welcome.

Stats changes

Haaland stats in FM20
VITAL STATISTICS: Could FM21 shake-up the stats model?

The Football Manager player stats have been static for a while, but it would be good to see additions made.

Finishing could be expanded to one-on-ones, first-touch shooting, and poaching for example.

It would be good to see if a striker with 15 finishing was stronger in certain situations so you could better tailor your tactics to each player.

The same goes for fast wingers. Are they quick at getting to the ball, but dramatically slower with the ball at their feet?

Toby Durant