Before Football Manager descended into micromanagement hell, I was a huge fan of the series, particularly Championship Manager 99/00.
In fact, just the other day I found some old save games and tactic files, and thought to myself: what if I could get that old game running on my Ubuntu laptop?
Why Ubuntu and not Windows?
Obviously it makes more sense to attempt running CM99/00 on a Windows computer, right?
Well, not necessarily. To start off with, most Windows computers – my own laptop included – are 64-bit computers. Running 32-bit software is a challenge, expecially software intended for Windows 98. It’s a bit of a hassle.
However, my other reason is more interesting. If I can run Championship Manager 99/00 on my Ubuntu 22.04 laptop, I can probably run it on my Steam Deck.
I also have a third reason: the Ubuntu laptop is the only one I own that has a DVD-ROM drive.
Championship Manager or Football Manager?
If you weren’t already aware, the Football Manager series as owned by SEGA started life as Championship Manager, from Eidos. Prior to 2005, the developers split with their publishers, taking the game with them. Consequently, there was a short-term overlap, as Eidos released a series of games called Championship Manager that were unrelated to the pre-2005 games.
Meanwhile, the original developers adopted the name of original soccer management sim Football Manager, no longer owned by Acclaim or Kevin Toms (who has since released Football Star Manager) for mobile and desktop.
Why the hate for Football Manager?
The game featured in this guide is Championship Manager 99/00, one of the better examples of the series we now call Football Manager, which retains a healthy dose of statistical spreadsheets and tactics management without the tiring press conference nonsense and day-to-day realism that most players don’t care for.
Over the years, Football Manager has become dull. FM 2005 might well have been the last decent version of the game; in my opinion, at least.
Create a disc image
Various tools exist to create disc images from CDs and DVDs. As I have the original media, it made sense to use that than rely on a potentially dodgy third party download. It was certainly more legal.
To do that, I inserted the disc in the laptop CD drive, ensured it was not mounted, and then ran the following command:
$ sudo dd if=/dev/cdrom of=/home/cm9900.iso
It didn’t take too long for the ISO file to generate. After mounting and investigating the ISO file to ensure it matched the disk, I dismounted both physical and virtual media.
Install Wine and PlayOnLinux
To run Windows software on Linux, you can either use a virtual machine running Windows, or rely on Wine. This guide recommends Wine with the PlayOnLinux front-end. The easiest way to install these is from the distro’s software center.
You can also use the terminal:
$ sudo apt-get install playonlinux
This should result in both PlayOnLinux and Wine being installed.
Install Championship Manager 99 with PlayOnLinux
After installation, run PlayOnLinux, then:
- Click Configure > New
- Choose Install a program in a new virtual drive and click Next
- Click 32-bit windows installation and Next again
- Choose System, and Next to proceed
- Give a name to the virtual drive (I called mine “cm9900”) then click Next
- Click the Applications tab in the Wine configuration window and select the Windows Version that matches the software. For Championship Manager 99/00, Windows 98 should be fine
- Click OK
- When the virtual drive appears in the left-hand menu, click it
- Select the Miscellaneous tab and click Run a Windows Executable
- Browse for the cm9900.exe file in your mounted disk image
- Work through the Windows installation wizard
- Create a shortcut when prompted
- In the main PlayOnLinux/PlayOnMac window, select the installed software and click Run
The original 3.7x release of Championship Manager 99/00 has a few bugs. If you can find the 3.73 EXE file, this includes bugfixes (such as stopping you from buying expensive players for free) and has a No-CD patch.
This is installed first by exiting the game and then downloading the ZIP file from the host. Then:
- Unpack the v3.73 patch from the ZIP archive (it is called cm9900.exe)
- In PlayOnLinux, with the CM99/00 virtual drive selected, click Open the directory.
- Rename the existing cm9900.exe file (I used cm9900.old)
- Copy the new cm9900.exe file into the directory
When you next run Championship Manager 99/00, the patch installer will run. Click Install in English then Next to commence the update.
Playing Championship Manager 99/00 23 Years Later
Once I had the game up and running and configured it into windowed mode, it felt like I was “home.”
After struggling with the 2010 and 2015 releases (I may also have tried the 2020 game, as I have it on Epic Games, but I honestly don’t remember the experience), Championship Manager 99/00 just lets you straight into the action. No in-depth player interactions where the game attempts to AI every player’s psychology, no demented team talks, and no press calls.
Just honest 100% team selection, tactics management, buying and selling players, jumpers for goalposts, the way it used to be, isn’t it?
Gaming since 1984, retro gaming since 2004. Contributes to Linux Format magazine and MakeUseOf.com.