During ECTS we got to speak with NI Sports about their Sky Sports Football Manager, which appears to be every wannabe team managers dream.


Let's face it, almost every fan spends hours after each match analysing "their team" and how well they did - or more usually how badly they did. "The manager should be sacked", "Owen should have been played on the other side" "That goalie is useless, they need to replace him" - comments surely everyone's heard by someone who thinks they know better than the manager?

Well now it's their chance to really prove they know what they're on about as Sky Sports have teamed up with NI Sports for the Sky Sports Football Manager - a massively multiplayer online game, which follows all the UK teams from any league.

Because of the massive number of players which will be taking part in the game, it's been split up in to separate worlds, each of which has 114 managers, made up from any of the UK clubs.

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Seasons last 3 months, and you get to play 4 seasons per year - data is then updated and refreshed to ensure that player data is current with the real statistics, players are in their correct teams, etc.

Sky Sports Football Manager doesn't deal with the stadium building and other similar factors - it was felt that this was more delt with by the Chairman of the club, and that the full focus should be on managing the teams.


You get to manage a team in a world, of which there are an infinite number, you can either play against people in your office, school, group of friends, or just play other football fans from around the country - there's also the possibility to be in a world where matches take place during the lunch hour, or only at 3 in the morning, to make it fair on everyone who wants to play the game.

To make the game playable with all teams, NI Sports have developed a rating system where small clubs will get more points for a win over Man United than a premiership team would have got, simply because Manchester United would be expected to win.

This system means that a small "no hope" team in the real world could actually be managed in such a way that they become top of the world that they are in, and moving up from the Bronze world 3 to the next stage playing other successful team managers, finally reaching the Gold world, and the big prizes.

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You're not just fixed to the one team though - job offers can be made to tempt you to another team, and the fact that it's all real humans playing means that you can bargain and negotiate with each other - this takes the "football management" to another level, as it's actually focusing on the manager, and not just the managing of a single team.

What's more, NI Sports are making sure that the community side of the game is used to great effect, with a chat room for each world, allowing you to chat with other football managers playing the game. A website will also feature news from each of the worlds, written by a team of journalists.

The website which will accompany the game will be subscription based, with various levels of access - to be able to chat with other members in the website chat room you won't have to pay a subscription.


The game will be available via normal retail methods, but players can also download a 5mb version of the game directly from the web when subscribing to play - the full version then gets sent via the post to allow gamers to experience the full graphical version.

Football Manager isn't about being all graphics though - matches take place as text based reports, which have all been based on real radio commentary - there's also 10 billion combinations of text, to make sure that you don't get the same old comments coming up to describe the action.

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Added atmosphere also comes in the form of sounds specific to the teams and grounds - play at a premiership ground with top teams and you'll have a roaring crowd - play at somewhere with more players than fans, and well, you'll hear a coke can blowing in the wind.

Tactics also play a part to the game - there's the opportunity to base your decisions on league tables and player ratings, but you can also take the sneaky underhand method of knowing you've got no hope in beating one of your friends teams, and so instead you're going to send out your players with the aim of injuring their star striker - doesn't mean you won the match, but it means they have an injured striker for the next few matches.

News events from the virtual football worlds also make virtual newspaper headlines, so when Brentford thrash Manchester United in the FA Cup, you'll get to see the news - unlikely in the real world, but with a know-it-all fan as the manager, anything can be possible.


SMS messaging is also being considered to alert players of match results, player injuries, and generally keep you up to date with events in your world if you're not able to be at your computer - to an extent your team can be put on "auto-pilot", but being so you will get less points, and for instance, if the computer needs to change a player due to an injury then you will be penalised for not making the change yourself.

The fact that it's football, and Sky Sports, who simply are the name for football in this country, means that Sky Sports Football Manager is bound to be a success, and would appear to be on a winning run for goal.

Sky Sports Football Manager is due to kick off this November, and will cost 6.99 per month to play - to find out more and to register for free updates, check out nisports.com.

Related article: Sky's the limit for online Football Manager