“Realistic” House Rules

V. 1.2 – Updated 24/07/2020
– Amended the youth academy rules regarding the positions you need filling. 16 man squad with 11 starters and 5 backups.
– Changed the club legend/long term player requirements when it comes to selling players to 7+ years.
– Included the club legend/long term player restriction when it comes to buying players.

V. 1.11 – Updated 07/07/2020
– See below link for Summarised version of these rules. This doesn’t give the reasoning behind why each rule is put in, it simply lists the rules.

V. 1.10 – Updated 03/07/2020
– Amended rules regarding player training in Part Five

V. 1.0 Original Rules

This post is going to be fairly lengthy and (unfortunately) mostly word based. It will detail the rules I put in place, in every single career mode I start, in an attempt to make the careers more realistic and challenging. The career modes will still throw their own spanners in the works with crazy transfers that are either too cheap or would never happen. While this won’t stop that happening, it will at least help keep the team you control semi-realistic.

Please note, that each career mode will have further story based scenarios attached to it to add to the individuality of each team. This is just a base to use every time.

I have this documented in a word file, for those that would rather have a copy of that I can provide it, just get in touch via the contact page. In time I may provide a summary of these rules with a link to this detailed version.

I’ll make my credits now at the start while I still have your attention. I got so many ideas for these rules just from prowling Reddit FIFACareers subreddit. I’ll provide links to the specific posts that really helped in creating this. Additionally, when doing my research Transfermrkt helped greatly when backtesting ideas and prices. They are mentioned on the home page with a link to their website. A huge library of resources.

Part One – Purchasing Players:

First off, a big part of career mode that can be abused is the purchasing of players. So I introduced several rules to prevent this:

Keep your signings realistic.
By this I mean each purchase (or sale) has to have a “story” with it that would make sense. Some typical scenarios could be: players going down to a lower league, switching countries, buying/selling off rival clubs, buying/selling off teams in the same league, a regular starter for one team moving to play on the bench at another. These all have specific situations when it may or may not happen and some may never happen at all.
Imagine each transaction as if you were the actual manager of the club and you were trying to convince each purchase you’re going to make to sign for the club. What arguments would you expect against the transfer and what would your arguments be for them arriving? Who would win that argument?

Purchasing Players in the Summer Window:
Two signings are allowed for the starting XI.
Two signings are allowed for the bench.
If two starting XI players are sold, you may make a third signing for the 18-man squad.
Three signings are allowed as reserve players.
From all of these signings, a maximum of three can be loans
Similarly a maximum of two of these can be between the ages of 16-21; on the basis that clubs don’t want to give away their youth prospects easily and it prevents you from hoarding the talent.

Purchasing Players in the Winter Window:
One signing is allowed for the starting XI.
One signing is allowed for the bench.
If two starting XI players are sold, you may make a third signing for the 18-man squad.
Two signings are allowed as reserve players.
From all of these signings, a maximum of two can be loans
Similarly a maximum of one of these can be between the ages of 16-21.
You are allowed to make two pre-contract agreements for players between the ages of 24-29. They must be realistic, and would likely happen if the situation on your career mode was happening in the real world. They must follow the general rules that are outlined below. These count towards your next Summer Window Purchasing limits.
You are allowed to make as many pre-contract agreements as the purchasing limits for your next Summer window will allow for players over the age of 30. They must be realistic and follow the rules outlined below.

General Rules on Purchasing Players:
The following points add further to the initial limits outlined previously. They add to the sense of realism when purchasing the players and prevent exploiting the system.

You must scout players completely before approaching/signing them.

Signings may not come from a higher league than your club, unless they can realistically be considered dead wood or would be loaned to you (realistically).

No signings can be made from teams in the CL unless:
Your club is also in the CL
The selling club is not in the top 5 leagues
The player would be considered realistic deadwood
If you are the champion of a top 5 league, then can you sign a player who’s in their team’s regular starting XI regardless of their prestige unless they are a domestic rival (domestic rivals are outlined at the start of every career mode). Otherwise no other teams can sign players in the starting XI of teams in the CL.

Work out your Team Average.
This involves taking your starting 11 players and finding the average rating (either add all 11 players up and divide by 11, or take your highest rated XI player plus your lowest rated XI player and divide by 2)

Next, see the table below for to calculate position differences. This shows the disparities between positions (i.e. you’ll find the highest rated ST is typically much higher than the highest rated LB).

PositionPlayerPotentialPosition Difference
GKJ. Oblak931
CBV. van Dijk920
RBT. Alexander-Arnold90-2
LBA. Robertson89-3
CDMS. Tonali91-1
CMF. de Jong920
CAMK. Havertz931
RMJ. Sancho942
RWL. Messi942
LMM. Rashford89-3
LWNeymar Jr920
CFJoao Felix931
STK. Mbappe953
List of positions in FIFA 20 and their highest potential player pre YA as at 17/06/20 squads.

Some notes on the above table. I’ve listed all positions here except RWB & LWB. The positions themselves feel like anomalies and that all FB’s can also be WB’s in my view. Each FB has a tendency to be more attacking or defensive and the attacking favoured FB’s are just better performing WB’s. They dragged the average down with max potentials of 83 which meant all positions would be affected just by these two positions.
In an ideal world I’d take every single player from FIFA and based on their primary preferred position use the averages for all of them to determine an average based table to balance out the world class exceptions. I just simply don’t have the resources nor time for that however (sorry).

The next table is the table we will use. This groups together the positions to help simplify buying players:

AreaPositionsAverage PotentialArea Difference
Central DefenceCB920
Wide DefenceRB/LB/RWB/LWB90-2
Central MidfieldCDM/CM/CAM920
Wide MidfieldRM/LM/RW/LW920
Positions grouped into areas on the pitch to summarise differences.

What this means will be discussed in the next couple of paragraphs. Key words to take away from this for later reference:
Team Average – The average rating of the Starting XI
Area Difference – The amount to be deducted or added to the team average dependent on a player’s position in order to determine the Base Average
Base Average – The expected average rating for players in certain positions based on the overall ability of your starting XI

At this point some might realise I’ve got official SoFIFA potentials there and think “HOW CAN YOU SAY YOU’RE REALISTIC WHEN YOU USE POTENTIALS FROM SOFIFA?!?!” and to that I completely agree with the logic of your argument. However, I take personal accountability in that I do not use a player’s potential on SoFIFA to justify a signing. For those aged below 22 I use their squad report info (showing great potential etc.). For those above I determine the signing based on how their overalls have formed so far with an expectance to grow a few more OVR’s up until around 25/26. Using SoFIFA just makes it easier when planning a career mode to know an idea of a target. I still need to find them using my scouts.

Back to the main topic: as we’ve just discussed each position in FIFA varies in terms of the expected maximum output for overall:
Team Average plus/minus the Area Difference gives you a Base Average for each position.

The rule is:
You aren’t allowed to purchase anyone who is more than two overall points higher than the Base Average for their position.
This way you reduce the exploitability of the game by being unable to sign someone who arguably is too good for the team.
E.g. If you’re buying a ST, and your team average is 80. The area difference of +2 means you have a base average of 82. The rule would be you can only buy an 84 or lower ST.
Vice versa if you were buying a Wide defender such as a RB. The area difference of -2 means you have a base average of 78. The rule would be the best RB you could buy is 80 or lower rated.

Additionally, you are only allowed to buy one such player per window.

The exception to the rule is for players over the age of 30.
For every year over 30 you can get an additional +1 overall. E.g. a 31 year old can be 3 more overall points than the base average for their position. However this does not apply to Goalkeepers as they are still in their peak until around their mid 30’s on FIFA.

To show you why doing this calculation helps.
Imagine if we just used a team average to sign players. This would mean we wouldn’t be able to sign great strikers and may have to settle for a good striker, but we may have access to a great or world class full back. The prime example is if our team average for a 4-4-2 flat formation was 82. If we used a flat team average it would mean we can only sign players that are 84 rated or lower. If I were to sign a ST, I’d be looking at players such as Ben Yedder (AS Monaco) and Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal) who are great strikers but arguably not world class (around 17th – 20th in the world for 1st preference ST’s). Whereas, if I were to sign an 84 rated LB I’d be looking at being able to buy 3 of the top 5 1st preference LB’s. If we used the table, I’d have Base Averages of 80 for the LB and 84 for the ST or maximum buys of 82 and 86 respectively. When we look then at what is on the market. We see Marcos Acuna (Sporting) and Alexandar Kolorov (Roma) for LB’s who are ranked #9 and #10 in the world for 1st preference LB’s, and Timo Verner (RB Leipzig) and Jamie Vardy (Leicester) for ST who are ranked #9 and #10 in the world for 1st preference ST’s. This alignment is much more suited in my view.

Back to the rules on purchasing players (I did say this wasn’t a nice article):

You cannot approach players that have been at their clubs for 7 or more years unless:
They are unhappy at their current team – either from a scouting report or from rumours in the media.
They aren’t within 5 points of the team’s base average (this is harder as you’d need to know the starting XI for that team).

If the player you’re buying is <30 years old and the team is in the same league as you. You must add an additional 10% of the original player value onto your price.
The logic here is that a team fighting in the same league as you won’t want to let any of their players go without a price unless they are beginning to enter their decline which would give them reason to relinquish the player for some cash before he loses too much value.

When buying players aged between 16-24 (aka developing/players with potential):
If they’re rated more than their Base Average (see above regarding what this means) then a starting offer of x2 their player value must be made. If this team was also in the same league then you would add an additional 10% of their original player value on top which would bring the total to x2.1.
If they’re rated the same as their base average then x1.75.
If they’re rated below their base average then x1.5.

When buying players aged between 25-29 (aka their Peak/Prime):
If they’re rated more than their base average then x1.4
If they’re rated the same as their base average then x1.3
If they’re rated below their base average then x1.1.

When buying players aged 30+ (aka Past their Prime/On the decline) they may be signed for any fee agreed upon.

When doing a player swap deal, be careful because there are opportunities to abuse the system here too.
The opposite team must have a realistic reason to want to swap players, ideally you swap similar positions, if you don’t then why would the other team want the other player? Explain this logically to yourself in an unbiased manner. Again, make sure that the value of your player plus any cash matches the multipliers mentioned above.

Well done! You’ve read this far and that’s just the basics of purchasing a player from another club! I’m impressed by anyone who is willing to add this level of depth to their career mode and all I’ll say is you’re on the right blog to do it. The next step will be following on from the agreed purchase and will be looking at contracts.

Part Two – Weekly Wages/Contracts:

At the start of every season you must establish a wage cap that is 20% higher than your highest paid player.
No contracts can be made higher than that for the current season. If people complain then they can leave for more money elsewhere; so is the way and problems a football manager must cope with. If this wasn’t in place, the board may review copious wage bills and other players may have reason to be unhappy at the wage gaps formed within the same team.

When agreeing a new contract, as a minimum, the weekly wage must be the equivalent of 0.25% of their value, if they suggest more then use that plus whatever they’re currently on to negotiate with.
This prevents YA players being underpaid and exploited. Note that when signing a player, their “value” is whatever price you’ve agreed to purchase them for as that is the “value” that you have deemed appropriate to pay for him. In a player swap deal, this would be the value of the player you’ve swapped plus any cash.
As an example: You paid £10,000,000 for a player in cash. 0.25% of £10,000,000 is £25,000. They’d warrant £25k per week salary. If however, he was asking for £40k/week and his current club he already got paid £30k/week then you negotiate between the two. A player would very rarely take a pay cut unless they were a star that had fallen from grace.

Example of Purchase from start to finish:
A player is worth £1,000,000. He is a future prospect for the club he plays for, he’s under 24 years old with an overall that is higher than the position base average rating. The team you are purchasing from isn’t in your league. Based on that information he qualifies for a 2x offer as he’s between 16-24 and is rated higher than the position base average. Your first offer should be £2,000,000. The club agrees to sell him for this valuation. At the contract talks he asks for a weekly wage of £3k per week and was previously on £2k per week. However, due to your new valuation 0.25% of £2mil is £5k per week which is what you must offer him.
Now unfortunately at this point there’s some immersion breaking cut-scene where the player’s agent will say how “it’s not what my client wants but he really wants to move to this club blah blah.” Just take it as it is, unfortunately EA hasn’t made career mode perfect, ignore this blips in the cut-scenes and you should be ok.

The astute may notice that release clauses haven’t been mentioned yet.
This is because, due to FIFA being FIFA, they’re fairly buggy. I will leave them to your personal discretion, and will be giving my opinion on release clauses in a separate article or else this article will never end!

Part Three – Youth Academies:

Stay with me, we’ve got through a large chunk and are over the halfway mark. The next section will focus on the easily abused youth academies (YAs). On the whole, YAs are overpowered. Players like Messi & Ronaldo should be very hard to find. In FIFA’s YAs they can be produced fairly often, especially if you aren’t afraid to exploit the youth academy (YA) system. So we set out some rules/guidelines to follow to try and prevent that from happening so often.

If your club is in the CL a maximum of 8 stars are allowed for each scout.
This could be a 4*4* scout or 5*3* or 3*5*.
If your club is in the top tier in your country but not the CL a maximum of 6 stars are allowed and you must scout players from the same continent as your club.
By continent I mean the footballing body the country is registered to, e.g. UK is in UEFA, USA is in CONCACAF, Australia is in the AFC. So you can only scout countries who are also registered to the same body. Unless you are in the equivalent Champions League for that body too. Then you get 8 stars.
Lower league teams have a maximum of 4 stars for scouts and must scout domestically or in neighbouring countries only.

Your first YA must be set up in your base region and stay there throughout.

Your second YA must be setup in a neighbouring country (if there are none e.g. Australia then pick between the nearest countries).

If your club is allowed to then your third scout can be anywhere.

Before promoting a YA player save the game. When promoted if they have any low work rates or 1 star skill moves or weak foot you must reload the save and release them from the YA.
The reason we do this is because a player like that shouldn’t make it in your YA so you would have released him before he went pro. If we decided to just never play him and sell him at first opportunity it breaks one of the rules about selling players within 12 months and it would give you additional funds that you shouldn’t have gained. It helps also prevent a tide of players from your YA swarming into your first team.

A full YA must be formed as soon as possible. This means one player in every position of your first team’s formation and then one backup/SUB, Wide defender, Central Defender, Wide Midfielder, Central Midfielder, and a Centre Forward/Striker.
You will likely have to sign every player from the scout reports in the first few months. Note you can only have one GK, this is simply due to squad size and the fact that GK’s always show their position from the initial scout reports so are easier to filter off. Typically they are the least in demand position you’ll need too as rotation is less likely.

To sign players once you have the full 16 size academy you must wait until you know their position and then release one of their counterparts in your academy.
E.g. You’ll have a YA Starting XI ST and then a backup CF/ST. If you see a player in your scout reports you must scout further until you know his position before you replace either of them.

You can promote as many YA players as you like per season, however they must stay with the club for at least 12 months after being promoted before being able to be released/sold.

Their first contracts can be on what the player requests as a contract (weekly wage wise).
Treat this as a youth contract for a player entering the professional side.
Once you go to give them a renewed contract then the 0.25% rule applies.

Part Four – Selling Players to Other Clubs:

This is the final specific part before we finish with some general rules. In the real world, managers face many issues when it comes to keeping hold of players. They face pressure from the board to turn a profit and sell players before they start losing value, they face pressure from ambitious players wanting to move to bigger clubs, they face pressure from players’ families for moving to a more local land. It’s tough out there so hopefully these rules will help you feel that.

You cannot sell players within 12 months of signing them.
This applies to promoting YA players and when players are bought externally. The idea being that the board & fans don’t want to see mass turnover of players. The board wouldn’t be impressed that they’d just invested money in a player to see him sold at the next opportunity.

Every season you are assigned a local rival or league rivals, you are not to deal with them directly.
Signing ex-players is allowed however.

You can’t sell club legends or long-time players (7+ years at the club) provided they meet the following criteria:
They are within 5 points of their base average (you may sell a player if he declines or improves so much he stands out from the starting XI in a good or bad way).
They aren’t asking to leave.

During a window you will receive what we will call “Qualifying Offers” that meet the rules outlined below. However, you are allowed to reject ONE qualifying offer per transfer window, no matter the offer.
Qualifying Offers:
Clubs that are smaller than yours do not qualify (use discretion)
If you receive an offer from a club that is better or at the same level as yours you must accept or counter offer.
Reserve Players must be sold if the offer is 40% higher than their value. Unless they are 21 or younger and deemed a part of the club’s future (be honest and look a few seasons ahead at what your future Starting XI & bench might look like), then you counter offer 2.5x their value and must sell if that is reached.
Bench Players must be sold if the offer is 75% higher than their value. Unless they are 23 or younger and deemed a part of the club’s future, then you counter offer 2.75x their value and must sell if that is reached.
Starting XI Players must be sold if the offer is 2x their value. Unless they are 23 or younger and deemed a part of the club’s future, then you counter offer 3x their value and must sell if that is reached.
If you’ve already sold a starter this window and the player is 24+ then you can counter offer with an additional 15% (so 2.15x their value).
If the club making the offer is in the same league as you then you may increase the price by 15% of the original value.
E.g. A bench player would be 90% higher than their value.

You are only allowed to sell 3 players from your XVIII man squad in the Summer Window, and only 1 in the Winter window, unless anyone requests to be sold after the cap is reached.

If a player requests to leave you must let him leave.
You are allowed to counter offer with what your advisor recommends or 10% above his valuation if there’s no suggestion. This is at your own risk as the board may step in at any time and sell him anyway.

If a club pays the release clause for a player you can’t renegotiate a contract and must accept the sale.
Unless as mentioned before the player is a club legend or long term player. Then you may renegotiate

And Finally Part Five – General Rules:

These are just some general rules that I couldn’t categorise or fell across multiple parts that add further to the realism.

Disable first transfer window – Work with the original team that you start with, run it in your head as though in your first window due to your inexperience the board delegated the signings to someone else. This also helps with the other teams making unrealistic signings too.

At least 6 players in your 18 man squad must be of the same nationality as the league you are in.
This is similar to the real life UEFA rule 4+4 rule which states that 8 of the 25 man squad must have been trained in the country of the club (about 1/3rd).

If your team is in the CL, no starting XI players can play domestic cup games before the quarter finals.
Unless there’s fatigue/injury issues preventing this.

Don’t use weekly training, natural development is high enough with dynamic potential too.
The only training that is allowed is one bronze drill “Keep Up The Pace” that is purely for the purposes of training stamina and the players that can be trained meet the following criteria:
1. They are 21 or younger
2. Their stamina is lower than 70 rated
3a. They are rated over 60 OVR
3b. They are showing great potential or more (80+ potential)

This was brought in due to the stamina demands that FIFA 20 asks for at least that I’ve noticed while playing career mode. I find the AI does outlast you in terms of stamina and that you’re heavily penalised in stamina when in possession. Without turning the game into a constant one touch pass game, I try and just make it so my players are useful for around 60-70 minutes most games.

If a player has “Excellent” form (arrow pointing directly upwards) he must start the next game provided the usual starting XI player isn’t also in Excellent form.
He must play at least 45 minutes unless he is tired/injured until his form falls.

Give players appropriate kit numbers after signing them.
Either use Transfermrkt to find the players kit number history and tendency of picking numbers or use a logical system for your positions.

With regards to unrealistic A.I. transfers.
I don’t condone too much save loading, however I know of players that will re-load career modes if a crazy transfer does happen which could protect you against that aspect too (this would require an objective rationale rather than a bias of not wanting your rivals to sign a great player).

Keep the culture of the club alive (optional):
This is entirely optional and is more of a challenge than a rule. Most managers have their own preferred formation and will try to mould teams to suit. In your career modes I’m asking if you have what it takes to mould your play to the team? Don’t amend their formations and don’t amend their tactics (you can amend instructions as this isn’t so much cultural and is more based on the players – I typically just switch all of these to default).

Play players in their preferred positions (optional):
Now this isn’t a fixed rule. This is an optional rule that doesn’t necessarily add to the realism as players can in real life be retrained and try other positions out. However, in my career modes I only play players in positions they prefer and ideally their primary preferred position. This adds further to keeping the culture of the club alive as you now have to get used to different positions and therefore different players. Note that WB’s are included in the FB positions and that if someone can play wide midfield I assume they can play as a winger and vice versa. The CF position is an interchangeable CAM & ST in my view. Most CF’s will have a secondary position which would illustrate their preference.

That’s all there is. I appreciate how long this article is and how many rules there are. This isn’t to say you must stick to them, however I do on my career modes and when creating scenarios. I genuinely feel they add so much value to career mode and make it far more enjoyable and challenging. Feel free to add to it (let me know if you do), or amend things. I hope you have found it all beneficial and I look forward to writing further articles in the near future.

The Reddit posts that were particularly useful:
The original post for FIFA 18 by user: Daggyy

An updated post by user: buzzballs (who references Daggyy in his post)

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