Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Football Manager prevails as Coronavirus continues to impede live sport

Posted on 17 March 2020 by Hal Fish
Football Manager 2020 (photo from Twitter via @FootballManager)

It’s hard to conceive but the 2019/2020 Premier League season may never be completed.

As more precautions and restrictions are made to daily life, sporting competitions across the globe are being postponed, some of which may never resume.

What’s more, individuals are being told to self-isolate as a way minimising the spread of COVID-19, more commonly known as Coronavirus.

Fear not though football fans! Fortunately, one sports sector that may remain relatively untouched in this age of uncertainty is eSports.

Whilst the biggest eSports events will no doubt have to be shut down, this will not impede the playtime of the bedroom gamer.

Proving this to be true, are the recent record-breaking statistics to have emerged of those playing Football Manager 2020 (FM20).

According to figures given by video game streaming service Steam, on Sunday 15 March the number of people playing FM20 reached an unprecedented height of 89,568.

To put this in perspective, last year the numbers peaked at 75,666.

Never before have so many players simultaneously logged on across the globe to pursue the thrill and excitement of simulated competitive sport.

Director of Football Manager 2020, Miles Jacobson reported an initial figure of 84,063 on Twitter, before updating this to a new record of 89,568 later on in the same day.

With the impact of Coronavirus obviously being the deciding factor in this latest figure, it’s rather fascinating (if not a little worrying) to see this number is only 2,148 higher than the previous record number of players which was set in 2013.

Indeed, 87,420 players all simultaneously played the Football Manager 2013 edition. It’s hard to imagine why so many people were all enjoying the game on that day.

Perhaps there was a big party the night before and everyone was hungover, or perhaps some sporting events had been postponed due to bad weather. Either way, it must have been one hell of a lazy day.

Possibly influencing the game’s current rise in popularity, professional football clubs have been simulating their postponed fixtures as a light-hearted way of providing their fans with some semblance of competitive action.

Watford’s social media team published a Football Manager simulation of their cancelled Premier League match against Leicester City on Twitter – the tweet was viewed 739,000 times.

It will also come as no surprise that online game magazine PCGamesN reported that Steam had over 20 million online users on March 15 (2020). This exact figure of 20,313,451 was a record high for the company.