Heathens global #7b: the away leg

First off, an apology. I’m sorry as this was intended to be a blog purely about the affiliate programme, but we only went and WON THE FRIGGIN’ CHAMPIONS LEAGUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!

But not to worry, for you can listen to the whole thing here in glorious blogcast colour! I won’t give away the actual score apart from saying it was a goddamn humdinger of a finale suited to our links with Utd history, so take a listen if you fancy it and if not, just scroll down and read on.

But onwards and upwards, let’s pretend that we didn’t WIN THE FRIGGING CHAMPIONS LEA …. ahem I mean let’s get on with the purpose of this blog, entitled the Away Leg because that’s exactly what it is, namely a blog about the global part of the Heathens project that takes place everywhere outside New Bank Street in the often awakward, frustrating and cantankerous realms of our affiliates.

Structure recap

Ok, so as it has been a while since I posted anything in detail about the affiliate programme, here is how it started, with a range of worldwide affiliates in three tiers; the 1st tier of clubs we actually own, containing the word ‘Heathens’ (or in Penarol’s case, ‘Paganos’, which means pagans)’ the 2nd tier which is teams we have a large stake in, prefixed with NH; and the 3rd tier, which are regular affiliates.

Why the three tiers? Simples, the 1st are the ones we most want to improve with the best players, the 2nd the next best and the 3rd who are regular affiliates who I couldn’t care less about and are just there to improve our players. At the game start it looked liked this, though there have been a couple of changes since:

In terms of the changes to the list, here are the ins. outs and status changes in our 5 years of current gameplay time, which I always intended to make a feature of the save as this is what might happen IRL.

IN: NH Anderlecht, as I needed another 2 to 3* outlet for players
(almost) OUT: Prescot and Hyde only have financial help and no loanees as this dufus forgot they weren’t playable being in the game
STATUS CHANGE: Salford have moved up two tiers to ‘Salford Heathens’ as a) it makes sense with them being local and b) something about a link with ‘a class of 92’ in an alternate parallel universe? (I don’t know either)

So the upshot is that we now have 21 teams to play with the aim of advancing the success of them in varying degrees as described. They also of course come in very handy to develop youth players, which I will get to soon. For now, let’s take a look at a player’s progress through the affiliate system in this next part.

Players’ progress through the affiliate system

The best way to describe it is in three steps, namely, IDENTIFICATION, of both player and club, PLACEMENT in the right club and REVIEW of whether or not it is working, but this is all much clearer in this map here (CLICK TO EXPAND):

(Good) Case Study 1: ‘smiley’ Shayne Lavery

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Shayne Lavery, whose little smiling face has done nothing but make me happy these last 5 years. He was never, ever going to make the grade for us but instead was bought simply as a loss-making loanee for purely altruistic reasons to bring on any club I send him too. in that respect he is a perfect example of what I am trying to achieve in the project:

How do i know this? Because this is his record for 4 different affiliates over the last 5 years, with three of them either winning the league or getting playoff promotion in that time. Even the Indian weather agreed with him during his stint at Hajipur Heathens in the 20/21 season, when I can only assume he was sponsored by Ambre Solaire, given his colouring:

(Not so good) Case Study 2: ‘ffs’ Aleksa Terzic

By contrast, here is the not so good example in the form of Aleksa Terzic, who came in at 3.5* potential but then pissed it all up the wall to stick resolutely at Vanarama level for the last 5 years (which he always seems pretty happy with tbh).

As you can see, he has spent most of that time at Halmstads, because he wouldn’t go anywhere else after 2019 until he decided to go on holiday to Australia this year in his final chance, where he didn’t play a single game until I noticed and recalled him. Call me sentimental but for some reason I could never bring myself to get rid of him, even though I’ve let many others in the same boat go (though his is now a dead man walking).

What has been the effects on the clubs and how do I measure it?

When it comes to measuring the effect of all this investment, I’ve found a very simple way which gives me a long term assessment of its impact and that is quite simply a team’s league position. However, with clubs in different tiers this isn’t as easy as it first sounds. For example, what happens when a club is promoted or relegated? When simply putting ‘1’ for a first place finish does not give me any indication of whether or not they have gone up or down? With that in mind then, I came up with the idea of giving them a ranking based on their position in the whole of their league, which I feel is much better. So now, for example, if Salford Heathens are 7th in League One, it actually reads as 51st place as there are 44 teams above them (20 teams in the PL and 24 in the Championship, so 20+24+7=51). I then enter this information twice a year, as follows (note that I have also included us, Newton Heath 1878 as we of course are also part of the Heathens family):

You can see clearly here then that between Jan and Jun in 2019 we gained 28 positions, so all well and good. If we take this forward to the present day in game which is five years on in 2024, it makes absolutely brilliant reading with a very pleasing 183 places gained, 12 league wins and 7 promotions, with only one relegation from our absolutely bobbins Indian team who have a one day loan window from the 28th through to the 29th December, which conveniently changes by a day or two either side every year (I kid you not):

All in all then, bloody spot on and not a lot more I could have asked for. but then again, what has been the cost to us as a main club?

The cost to us

First off, let me say that this was goddamn difficult to work out. That said, I’m not going to bore you with all the math details apart from saying I took this info from a sample of 10 players from the middle of the save (as it got cheaper and more expensive before and after as we got richer and better):

  • Player initial cost = 4mil (highest was 15, lowest was free)
  • Yearly wage = 500k (based on approx. 10k p/w as these are good players)
  • Total cost after being loaned out for 4 yrs is therefore 6mil
  • Total for the estimated 50 players I’ve used is therefore 300mil
  • Add to this the affiliate fees we’ve paid, averaging 100k p/y per club x 20 clubs) = 12 mil
  • BIG TOTAL = 312 mil (give or take)

Like I said, this was hard to work out as a couple of things have changed through the save. The first is that about half of my affiliates have started offering a wage contribution for 2nd-time loans if the player has had a good impact 1st time around. For example, NH Anderlecht paid nothing for Jacinto here at first but have just made this offer and this is happening more and more:

There’s also the times when I’ve recalled players to play for our main team, which can’t be counted in this loanees scheme cost. This means then that at a rough estimate you’re talking about 200mil overall.

(Sort of) moneyballin’ it

I say ‘sort of’ moneyballing because my first priority was always the development of the affiliates before the development of our main team, but when it came to our 4th season in the Premier league it was clear that the balance had to change as we just couldn’t compete financially without reaping some cash back from our little loanees (who had been cooking nicely in value, thank you very much). With transfer targets of Kai Havertz, Jordan Pickford, Joshua Kimmich and Juan Miranda who were all 50 mil+ range I cashed in a bunch of loanees, raising a gorgeous 136 mil. Together with some first team sales and my initial budget this enabled me to spend 330 mil and still leave a 38 mil profit for the club. Here are the loanees I sold in that year (Cutrone was half/half as I bought him for the first team but couldn’t get a WP):

Loanees sold

In short, this is how it has affected the transfers in the last 5 years of the save when it properly kicked in, in millions, bearing in mind that only about half the sales were loanees. As you can see, apart from 21-22 when we spent every penny of the 87 mil the board gave us it hasn’t been bad going at all:

And finally ..

So in summary, the story of the affiliate programme is a very good one so far. As intended, it has led to the development of our affiliates and also towards a moneyball route which I always knew would be there though maybe not to this extent, and of course ultimately it led to us being able to buy the players to win the Champions League. So, if you haven’t listened yet, then do it now 🙂

And on that note, I’m out. Thanks for reading chaps, if you want to know more about the save, hit me up on twitter at @FMheathen and I will be happy to answer your questions.

Bye for now,


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