German Team Takes Football Manager Game to Real Life

A lower-tier German club has allowed fans to vote on major decisions like signings, starting lineups, and ticket prices.

by Sean Newell
Dec 2 2016, 7:20pm

TC Freisenbruch, a club in Germany's second-lowest division, has taken a cue from the popular Football Manager simulator and applied it to the club itself. For a monthly fee, fans can log on to the club's website and vote on everything from the starting XI to the price of beer at the stadium. And according to ESPN FC, it actually might be working:

In an attempt to reverse a slow decline in recent years, the Essen-based club, founded in 1902, turned to Football Manager by allowing subscribers who paid a monthly fee of €5 to make important decisions on their behalf.

A few months into the Kreisliga B season, the second-lowest division in German's league system, Freisenbruch have won all but one of their 16 games, and top the table with an eight-point lead, and the community is slowly growing.

"We now have managers from Austria, Switzerland. There's one from Vietnam, and only yesterday a guy from Oslo signed in," the club's sporting head, Peter Schafer told ESPN FC, adding that they are currently working on an English version of the manager game.

The club provides paying members with real-time updates on the health and performance of the players, and even provides financial statements at every match. Fans can also weigh in on player signings, within reason. Schafer said that while they could make a run at Cristiano Ronaldo, they couldn't offer €100 million, "but rather a crate of beer."

And the actual manager, former FC Schalke striker Mike Mollensiep, was convinced to take over before the season specifically because of this setup. "I played online football managers back in the days and wanted to know if it could really work," he told the German paper Suddeutsche Zeitung. He says it has—winning 15 out of 16 is a pretty good point in the "pro" column—because so far the cooperation between clubs and the fans has been "good." For their sake, let's hope the trolls don't find out.