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Championship Manager Games Series

  • First Release date: 2005
  • Platforms: PC/Mac/PSP/Xbos 360
football manager game series

Many of us will remember the old championship manager games series fondly, and before Football Manager was released, this game ruled the charts' year after year. Unfortunately, since Championship Manager 5 the sales figures of the game do not come close to Football Manager. In this guide, we will explore the game as it has progressed from the original Championship Manager to Championship Manager 2010.

Championship Manager

Sold with the title, 'the most realistic football simulation ever,' Championship Manager did not live up to its own hype right away. Released in 1992 for the Amiga, the game was described as primitive even for its time of release. Critics said that the graphics were poor and the lack of sound effects was highly disappointing, and even though it was very early into the football management era; teams were not licensed and some did not have players with made up names, instead these teams would play with players symbolised by numbers.

On the other hand, the game did show signs of its potential. Championship Manager was the first game to introduce average ratings; in fact, in this game, ratings became a focal point of how you would determine the team that went out for the next game (if you knew what you were doing!)

Championship Manager (93/94) Update to Original

Even though this was an update rather than a 'real' version, many people saw this game as a new development. Many people believe that this update defined the Championship Management series, and without this update, the game would have never reached the heights that it did.

Sports Interactive must have seen potential with the first game, but as soon as it was released to the mainstream, the public started to report faults, which is why this update was released. However, this update was also the first game that was made available for the PC, even though CM2 was still released on the Amiga.

The biggest change to the game was the introduction of licensing. On top of this, for the first time you could buy foreign players (even if it was only a handful). Small but equally as important changes included; changing the name of the championship to the Premiership, updates to in-match commentary, addition of injury time, new player awards, ability to change background, and improved loading times.

Championship Manager Italia

Off of the back of Championship Manager 93/94 came Championship Manager Italia. There were no new features from the 93/94 game even though the game released an update in 1995, but this game allowed players to try their hand at Serie A and Serie B, rather than the English leagues.

Championship Manager 2

Even though CM 1 did not get off to the best of starts the update really pulled it back from the brink. For the first time, CM 2 managed to challenge and overtake its rivals, and the developers may have had an inkling that this would be the case as they delayed the release of the game on several occasions to make sure it was ready to take on the competition.

CM 2 pressed on with vast updates to the graphics and commentary. Even though the graphics received an amazing reception, the commentary (even though it was optional) provided by Clive Tyldesley was not a success. This was for a number of reasons; however, first, the game had to be slowed down for you to listen to the commentary, and secondly there were so few audio snippets that it quickly became boring and annoying. This would be the last time audio commentary would be used in management simulations, and the team at CM saved any potential development faux pas by making this feature optional rather than a requirement.

A major breakthrough came with the introduction of the Scottish league. This meant that for the very first time, one game could play more than one country (even if you could not play them simultaneously).

Championship Manager 2 Season (96/97) Update

The 96/97 update of CM2 was the first to introduce the Italian league to a game which was available in the UK. The game was also the last that was to be released on the Amiga. Released in September 1996, the game featured all the required updates (transfers etc...), bug fixes and probably most significantly the introduction of the Bosman ruling.

Championship Manager 2 Season (97/98) Update

The 97/98 update broke one of the most important moulds, and that was for the very first time the game had three leagues that could be played together. Due to this and all the other updates, many people believe that this update was the earliest game that we can look back at and say; 'this is when football simulations (as we know them today) started to take shape.'

This update was also the first game where we would see the introduction of a database editor, a feature which SI have focused a lot of their attention on since Football Manager 2006.

There were now nine leagues available in this CM update including:

  • England
  • Scotland
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • Portugal
  • Holland
  • Germany
  • France
  • Belgium

One of the most impressive facts about this game was its sales figures. This CM2 update was the top selling PC game of 1997; however, the game had no CD lock, which meant that you could install it on as many computers as you wanted and these systems could play it without the disc. Many people suggested that you needed to double the sales figures in order to get an accurate representation of how many people were playing the game.

Championship Manager 3

Released in March 1999, Championship Manager 3 is probably the game which is most fondly remembered by fans. While it did not go through many changes, there was a lot of graphical and technical work, which shaped the game. When it was released, people did not agree with the new user interface layout; however, after just a short time (when people had become used to it) it became popular.

CM 3 was the first football management simulation that allowed players to play up to 16 at a time on a LAN connection. This feature was not very popular at the time (due to the way and the speed of Internet connection); however, is now a feature that has come into its own.

Of course, by this time, one of the most exciting updates came with which teams would be introduced to the leagues. They were not disappointed when they found out that there would be six additional leagues and for the very first time there would be leagues from outside Europe; including:

  • Denmark
  • Sweden
  • Norway
  • Japan
  • Brazil
  • Argentina

This was the very first game when you could play as a team from the English Conference. CM3 was also the earliest game where you could run all 15 leagues together; however, this was not realistic because only super computers could have handled the requirements.

Championship Manager 3 Season (99/00) Update

Just like all the other games, instead of coming out with the next game in the series (CM4) the developers would release a seasonal update. This season update was by far the most boring development that SI had made from any in the series.

The Developers made all the required changes to the transfers and other changes, but apart from this, the only other major development was the introduction of the MLS (American league), but this did not take off, mostly because the American league was not popular at the time, and the way the transfer system worked only a few people in the whole world understood!

Championship Manager 3 Season (00/01) Update

After what seemed like a bit of a wasted development, SI came back stronger than ever with the 00/01 update. In fact, for the first time, SI had released (based on the box cover) what appeared to be a whole new game, even though those in the know could tell you that this was an update to CM3.

Ten more leagues were added to the 00/01 update, and as computers were now cheaper and more efficient, people started to combine leagues without having to worry about speed.

The notable new leagues were:

  • Australia
  • Finland
  • Greece
  • Northern Ireland
  • Russia
  • Wales

Another popular addition to the championship manager games was the introduction of a separate data editor. Now, players could access a database full of the games' information, which they could alter. The only problem was, as the database was so large, loading and saving it took forever, which meant that you needed to set aside an hour just to make one change.

Championship Manager 3 Season (01/02) Update

While this version did not make any major changes on release, it was the first which could be played on the Mac and Xbox, and even though many still preferred the PC version, the Xbox sales were impressive to say the least.

Notable additions included that you could edit much more information on the database, the new EU transfer policy, attribute masking and improved media interaction. Furthermore, in one of the patches, the K league (Korean league) was added.

This game has the biggest cult following of any on this list, and many people are selling updates of the game (which all the transfers), which means you can still play it without having to worry about old players.

Championship Manager 4

The CM series had now got such a reputation that the developers at SI knew that it would do amazingly well regardless of what they put out. On release, CM4 became the fastest selling PC game of all time, breaking all records.

The main addition came with the introduction of a 2D match engine, in contrast to the 'normal' text based games that fans of the series will remember. However, for many players, the 2D and now 3D match engine are wasted because the amount of time it takes to play a game does not make using them worthwhile.

SI once again added plenty of leagues to this game, most of which came from outside Europe. Including:

  • Austria
  • Czech Republic
  • Israel
  • Switzerland
  • Yugoslavia
  • China
  • Columbia
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Mexico
  • Singapore
  • South Africa

Not for the first time, the release of this version looked like it had been through fewer updates than some of the seasonal games. Even though this did not affect the sales figures, many people started to become frustrated and were asking for the developers to release a yearly game, which focused on updates and developments rather than seasonal updates with a new game once every two/three years.

Championship Manager 4 Season (03/04) Update

The Fans would get what they asked for after this game, but, not in the way they wanted. This game was the last version produced by both SI and EDIOS before they split and SI went onto develop Football Manager.

Unfortunately, every fan of the championship manager games would tell you that the split had affected the amount of work that went into the game. Even though it did manage to produce a few more leagues, most notably; Serbia and Montenegro and Indonesia. Apart from this, barely any additions were made.

SI left to produce Football Manager with SEGA while, Championship Manager would continue to release games with Beautiful Game Studios.

Championship Manager 5

Unfortunately, from this game to the last in this Championship Manager games series, the sales figures plummeted as a whole new version of the game had to be written from scratch, and the series lost all the features from before.

The game was delayed by over five months as the development team did not have enough time to write a new game from scratch. The game was finally released in March, which is not a great time to release a football management simulation.

This game did not get off to the best of starts, in fact, due to the amount of complaints a patch had to be released on the very same day. The game did not bring in any additional updates, and instead lost a lot of the features, even though you could argue that the whole game was a new development in itself.

Championship Manager 2006

Even though the game in 2006 was released as 'new', it was much more like a seasonal update that we were used to just a few years ago. Due to the amount of errors, developers spend 75% of their time working on patches rather than developing the game.

However, for the first time, the CM series would introduce a 3D match engine and player interaction, but these updates were once again overshadowed by what seemed to just be the negligent testing of this game. There were so many minor glitches that the fans of the series were starting to become very annoyed at the attention to detail. Including two players who were able to slip through the radar aged just 8 and 14, who would eventually become the best players in the game because of the extra time they had to progress.

Championship Manager 2007

With EIDOS having to withstand a tough couple of years, they really needed to focus on getting the basics right with the 2007 game and this is exactly what they did. Even though the game found itself behind Football Manager and FIFA Manager in terms of sales figures, the developers would have been ecstatic that the game received praise for its database detail.

Any development was focused on the console; however, one change that pleased a lot of lower league fans was the introduction of the Conference league North and South, which were fully playable.

Championship Manager 2008

The reception of the 2008 game was mixed to say the least. The game received scores from 45/100 to the 77/100, which is something that few games experienced. Generally, with games in any genre, critics can agree if the game is good or poor, but with this game you had to take the view that it depended on the player.

The game went through very few changes from 2007, which is why some critics started to rank the game at such a low score. The critics who ranked the game poorly said that the 2007 version was the year in which the game started to get back on track so why the development did not progress left the players dumbfounded.

Minor additions to the game included being able to add a club benefactor which would allow the user to gain more money, and there were also some additions to team talks along with other features, but nothing substantial.

Championship Manager 2010

Even though it was planned for release in April, EDIOS did not release the 2010 version of the game until 11th September 2009, which made them change the game from Championship Manager 2009 to 2010. This date was significant, because this meant that it was the first game (in three years) to be released before Football Manager, conversely this did little to affect the selling figures.

There were plenty of positives that this game brought to the football management genre, and for the first time since the split, the game could contend (in terms of features) with the Football Manager. This was mostly because the game spent an additional five month period in development.

The main changes to the game came to the 3D match engine, which became vastly more intelligent than previous versions. Now players had over 500 animations, which meant that the little players did not just look like stick figures.

Additional features like a set piece creator, scouting improvements and drill training also went down well with the fans and critics alike. However, the main development which was very popular as it had never been done before was the CM Season Live which allowed players to take over the game at specific parts of the season to see if they could change the results for their team.

In what can only be described as a publicity stunt, and in order to get the game back to the same level as the ever popular Football Manager series, EIDOS announced that people could buy the game for digital download for what they felt it was worth as long as they paid a 2.50 transaction fee. This led to a spate of people buying the game for just 1p, while a few others would stretch a bit further as a sign of appreciation.

However, everything that the developers had done seemed to have worked, the gap paired with the pay what you want feature led to the game receiving high reviews. Many critics stating that this game was the closest ever (in terms of gameplay) to the Football Manager. The magazine Now Gamer said that this game gave SI something to think about, and that it was in the "finest shape it's been in for half a decade". This reflected in the sales as the game was in the top 10 of the charts for four months, even if this was because the game was available for 2.51.

Championship Manager 2011

For one reason or another, Championship Manager 2011 was not released on the PC and instead users could download the game from I Tunes, which means it could be played on Apple. It is believed that the game has taken another break from the PC so that it can make further updates, due to the success of the last break. However, some believe that this 2011 version on the Iphone is the future of the game, and that it will never be developed on the PC again. EIDOS has neither confirmed nor denied any of the speculations surrounding CM 2012 or why they did not release 2011 on the PC.

Championship Manager World Challenge

Moving away from the 'normal' PC games, Championship Manager developed the World Challenge game for a variety of gambling sites. This game allows you to make basic management changes to your team and bet on the outcome of your virtual game with real money or play money depending on which version you play.

The game follows your management through the World Challenge (world cup) in South Africa, and allows you to take over any major national team in order to try and win the cup, if you fail then you are knocked out and go back to the start.


To say that Championship Manager has gone through huge changes since the first game would be an understatement. After getting off to the slowest possible start and being on the brink of fading to nothing before being revived by an update Championship Manager really came into its own. Then, when the EIDOS and SI split occurred it looked like CM would be on the brink of retirement again, only to get its act together and come back with the 2010 version. What is happening now, who knows?!?

If you enjoy playing the Football Manager games then we also recommend you try the
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