Last Updated on September 2, 2022
It’s a video gaming legend, but speadsheet analysis disguised as football management sim Championship Manager wasn’t always successful.
While the first game celebrates its 30th anniversary this week, it’s interesting to note how the original was pretty rough. Written in basic, with a clunky user interface closer to Anco’s Player Manager than the game it would later become, Championship Manager didn’t really hit its stride until Championship Manager 2 in 1995, which was followed by seasonal releases (96/97 and 97/98).
Championship Manager was originally very much an Amiga game, but it required the power of a PC to take things to the next level. That’s when things really picked up, and when the game became the franchise we recognize today as Football Manager (thanks to development team Sports Interactive split moving from Eidos and eventually settling under SEGA). The last Championship Manager for PC was released in 2010 with a “pay what you want” model, but it struggled to regain past glories, and distinguish itself from Football Manager.
I build the greatest team on earth
I came to Championship Manager late. Having tired of data swapping between Kick Off 2 and Player Manager (who knows why?!), I went through a number of alternatives before settling on Championship Manager on the Amiga. But I didn’t really get on with it.
It was a couple of years later, when the family got its first PC, that I encountered Championship Manager 97/98, and things changed for me. I built a team (Manchester City – I could never get anywhere in the game, then or since, with my home team, Middlesbrough) that included luminaries as Eric Cantona, Adrian Ilie, and many other big names of the day, designed an insane 2-5-3 formation with overlapping fullbacks, and won pretty much every competition going.
The glory days continued into Championship Manager: Season 99/00 (essentially Championship Manager 3), but I never bought every annual release. As such, my football management sim was Football Manager 2005 – the same developers, but with a new name.
Championship Manager (aka “Champ-Man” in some quarters) is notable for a number of reasons aside from making spreadsheets sexy. Some blame it for the break up of marriages, or the loss of jobs. It has proven to be very addictive, in the 2am “just one more turn” sense of the word.
Personally, I used the name as an exclamation of something amazing, but that didn’t really catch on. Still, the series holds good memories, and while the original didn’t really distinguish itself from other management sims of the day (and it was writtenin BASIC, which won’t have helped) it kicked off a legendary gaming franchise.
Gaming since 1984, retro gaming since 2004. Contributes to Linux Format magazine and MakeUseOf.com.