24 Jul 2021 12:28 PM +00:00

Arrival of women's football will "enrich your experience" says FM

Sports Interactive has announced women's teams will be arriving in the Football Manager series in the coming years.

Miles Jacobson, Studio Director at Sports Interactive said: "There’s no hiding that there’s currently a glass ceiling for women’s football and we want to do what we can to help smash through it."

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Unfortunately, this is not something the team can do overnight.

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One sport, one game

Stephen Davidson, Features Producer at Sports Interactive said: "Our job is to simulate real life, our game is supposed to be a simulation of real life."

"And increasingly, there is a conspicuously absent part of real life in our game, and that's something we've been talking about for a long time in the studio, and something we know we need to solve."

This is something the team have been working on for some time already, but given data is so minimal in the women's game - the team is starting from the bottom.

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NEXT LEVEL - Given FM's level of detail, adding the women's game to the database will take some time

Tina Keech, Head of Women's Research at Sports Interactive said: "Data is a real issue in women's football - It's just not there. Or if it is there, it's not accurate.

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"That's one of the most frustrating things I found, as there have been pro leagues now for few years.

"I'm hoping that we can send out a bit of a rallying call to the women's football community, the fans, clubs, the staff, the players, anyone to come to us and help us make a great database.

"If we think about the men's football, it's been going for 28 years, that's 28 years of a database, and we're starting from scratch.

"It will take time and everyone agrees that we want to do it right."

In it for the long haul

Those hoping for women's football to arrive in FM22 - you may be disappointed.

"It won't be FM22," says Stephen.

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"When will we add it? - When it's right and when it's good enough."

"FM is so impressive and so detailed and so realistic because it's built on this incredible foundation, with our databases used across football because of this legacy.

"That's 1000s of people working over nearly 30 years to kind of build this thing that represents the here and now, but also gives us the possibility to look back into the future chart trends and model project the future based on what's gone before."

That does commence with building the right team.

Tina says: "On the men's side, there are about 1500 researchers.

"At the moment, it is just me - I'm looking for researchers, I'm looking for people to help me build a great database."

Licensing battle

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FM already has the support of Watford Women, Leicester Women & AFC Wimbledon Ladies & Girls - as well as Chelsea Women's boss Emma Hayes.

But what clubs could we actually see on the game?

Tina says: "In terms of which leagues we're gonna do, we've, we've agreed on 10 definitely.

"There are a few more that we're discussing for the initial launch but the long term plan is to add as many if not all of the women's leagues that are out there."

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PARTNERING UP - We hope to see official women's league licences

Given this is FM, they aren't doing it by halves, because it's for the good of the game!

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Stephen adds: "It's such a sort of irresistible prospect because FM works because it's an interconnected world.

"You can't just add one League, because where's everyone going to go? And where's everyone going to come from and, you know, your transfer market is suddenly limited.

"We're adding this to the existing world and there isn't a separate game mode, this is the same footballing world.

"We've got to reflect, you know, the breadth, the depth of the league systems, and where football is being played at all levels, across both the men's and women's game.

So the goal is, as always, to provide a realistic, living, breathing football world. And to do that, we need to have lots of leagues, because that's what existed in reality."

Changing up

It's worth considering that the addition of women's football into such a detailed game as Football Manager does open up new challenges on a play level.

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Stephen says: "It's a new challenge. We're constantly having people say, 'I really want to play in this league, I want to play in that league' - there are so many amazing stories about people's different playthroughs.

"As for styles, people take a hypothesis and enact that out in their game world.

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EYE FOR DETAIL - Motion capture has already begun with female athletes

"Having women's football represented means that a door has suddenly been opened to a whole universe of more possibilities.

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"You will see that variety in gameplay, you will also see interesting things like the movement of non-players between the men's and women's game, as happens in reality.

"There's also gonna be a whole new area of women's wage structures, contracts, and a lot of interesting stuff, systems and opportunities to master that.

"The way people have really dug deep into football, the men's side of Football Manager - club finance competitions, legends to be made - all that good stuff.

"We see this as a chance to add depth complexity, and enrich our game world."

This isn't some token gesture, or a box to be ticked - adding women into Football Manager will literally change the game.