Managing a virtual football team might be hard enough. But Football Manager will now ask players to do something even more difficult – deal with the consequences of Brexit.
The game’s developers have re-written the game so that it will simulate the potential consequences of Britain’s decision to leave the EU. And players will then have to deal with the fallout – which in real life will impact everything from club’s abilities to get visas to their players to how much they can be paid.
The game tends to avoid politics, though real life decisions can tip over into the game – in previous games Qatar can have the World Cup taken off them, for instance, and new countries joining the EU will make a difference to the game. But as a rule it has tended to avoid politics, preferring to keep it out of people’s way.
Brexit was too significant to leave out of the game, however. The game’s developers have said that they had to factor in a simulation because it is such a significant development, Miles Jacobson from Sports Interactive said.
After two to ten years spent in the game, it will alert the player to the fact that trade negotiations have been begun ahead of Brexit. A year later, a news bulletin will appear that tells the player what has happened – which could be anything from a hard Brexit that means new work permits will have to be applied for, to a soft Brexit that leaves freedom of movement in place and makes little difference to how easy it is to recruit players.
The game will decide which of those consequences happen by simulating how the Brexit negotiations could possibly work out. That was done by researching those various possibilities and plugging them into the game, after “a lot of reading, a lot of talking to politicians and people in football”, Mr Jacobson told The Telegraph.
Developers had initially planned just to have one version of Brexit in the game, where there would just be one scenario where Britain leaves the EU. But as it became clear that a number of possibilities could happen in real life, developers worked to make it so that the game would use artificial intelligence and percentage chances to work out a variety of different situations, Mr Jacob said.
The impact that Brexit has on football in the UK and elsewhere depends entirely on the deal that the government gets when it leaves. If hard Brexit is adopted then it might mean that EU players are treated the same as those from outside the EU – potentially excluding some of the biggest stars of the Premier League, or at least making it far harder for them to be signed.
Such rules would mean that players including N’Golo Kante and Dimitri Payet wouldn’t have been able to come to the Premier League, Mr Jacobson said. And so those same rules will be in place in the game.
But that’s only one possible outcome. Other scenarios see Britain adopt a system like Italy’s, where only a certain number of non-EU players are allowed, except if Britain has left the EU that will apply to players outside of the UK.
And in extreme scenarios, Brexit could force non-UK players who are already playing for Premier League teams to be forced to re-apply for work permits. The game reflects the fact that such forced deportations are unlikely to take place in real life, but it’s still possible for it to happen within the game.
Football Manager 2017 won’t just simulate the outcome of Brexit but the potential consequences that might have for the UK. So, for instance, Northern Ireland and Scotland might hold their own referendums – leading to those countries leaving the UK and staying in the EU.
The game also adds other complications involved in being a football manager today. Those include social media – which fans and the media can use to pressure you to leave your job – and things like sport science and charged press conferences.
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