Manchester United, that massive global football brand whose fans are as equally annoying as Liverpool’s army of supporters never failing to mention how many times their team won a certain championship, aren’t happy with Football Manager lately. An annual exercise in the nitty gritty numbers of football, SEGA’s Football Manager is basically what would happen if you took EVE Online and replaced all starships with athletes who get paid an eye-watering sum of cash to stay fit and kick a ball around.
Idiots, they’d cover so much ground in the game if they just picked it up and ray towards the goal with it. Anyway, Manchester United reckons that Football Manager has made unlicensed use of their brand according to The Guardian, declaring that the game’s usage of the words “Manchester United” isn’t cricket. Or legal…SPORTS!
SEGA and developer Sports Interactive on the other hand, are saying nuh uh. According to them, Football Manager games have done this since 1992 and that usage of the team name is “a legitimate reference to the Manchester United football team in a football context”. Further strengthening their forward defense, SI say that because Manchester United’s analytics and scouting departments have contacted the developer in the past to make use of their detailed skills database, they should be in the clear then.
What Man’s Chest Knighthood has taken particular umbrage with however, is how SI doesn’t just allow for modding that makes importing MC Hammer United gear, colours and crests a walk in the park thanks to the fan community who regularly update these cosmetics, which the football brand wants blocked as this allows SEGA to do a dine and dash on paying any royalty and licensing fees to them. Via Kotaku:
United’s barrister Simon Malynicz QC argues however that SI should be stopped from allowing “the practice of supplying ‘patches’ or ‘mods’, essentially downloadable files containing replica trademarks, which consumers then incorporate into the game”, and which benefits Football Manager by “avoiding the need to take any licence and enjoying increased sales of their game”.
Now I’m no expert in law, but when it comes to policing the entire internet and attempting to stop fans from modifying their game, they may just be opening the door for the Streisand Effect to come inside. It’s not as if Manchester United doesn’t have some legitimate bones to pick with this case on the grounds of several technicalities, but to do so at such a late stage in the lifespan of Football Manager just seems like an own goal in the making.
Last Updated: May 27, 2020