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Interviews

Football Manager 2007

If you thought John Motson knows his football, meet Sports Interactive's Pete Sottrel

It's Pete Sottrel's role to ensure that every iteration of Football Manager is as accurate and wholesome as the last, filtering the expert knowledge of football fans from all over the shop into the wondrous cage of beautiful gaming that Sports Interactive have created. He's overseer of everything from the cavorting
of Ashley Cole and friends to the lowly Conferences...

From the top of the tree to fan contributions, how many researchers are there working on the new rendition of Football Manager?

There's an assistant researcher for every club in the divisions that I look after, so that makes 116, then there are about 50 working on lower-level English teams. I'm not sure of the arrangements of every country concerning assistant researchers, but I would estimate around 1,500 in total.

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How do you head-hunt people who'll provide statistics on their chosen side?

We look on our messageboards first. We need folk who've shown that they have a mature outlook and have sensible opinions regarding the data concerning their club. Our next port of call for new recruits, should our initial hunting ground prove fruitless, is the messageboard for the club in question; we'll post a request for anyone interested to email us, and then take it from there. We try to keep the team together as much as possible; a solid and experienced team is important to us. As there are so many aspects to take into consideration when researching a club and its players, new researchers often need a lot of guidance in getting the research to the standard that we require.

We find that by looking after people properly in this way, by taking the time to point out errors, omissions, over-rating etc, then folk soon get into the swing of things, and will only want to leave if and when other commitments in their lives (eg paid work, families) mean that they can no longer put in the kind of effort and commitment that comes with helping us with the research. Approximately one quarter of the 116 assistant researchers who work directly with me have been here since I started at SI, towards the end of 1999.

How do you make sure that they're not at all biased by their own fandom?

We have research guidelines that show the kind of ratings that we would expect for players at clubs playing at specific levels. Of course, there's room for manoeuvre outside these guidelines, but to do so the assistant researcher has to convince us of their case.

How detailed do the stats contributions get? Do any of the researchers get a little carried away?

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The detail is limited by the amount of fields needing completion for each club/player. Currently a player profile can have over 100 fields completed, and that's not including detail about their favourite colleagues/clubs, playing history, current loans, injury history, languages spoken and contract clauses. So, really, it looks as though we positively encourage our assistant researchers to get carried away! A fair few of them use their position within our research team to give them the excuse that they crave to go and watch the reserves and youth teams of their club, armed with trusty notebook and pencil.

At what point are the player rosters in FM2007 fi nalised? Is it as the Premiership transfer window closes?

The day before the Gold Master is delivered to SEGA. Even after the closing of the August transfer windows, loan deals and transfers of unattached players to clubs still take place, so we need to continue to monitor events in the football world.

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