Football Manager (1982 series)

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Football Manager
Publisher(s)Addictive Games
Designer(s)Kevin Toms
Platform(s)TRS-80, ZX80/ZX81, ZX Spectrum, BBC Micro, VIC-20, Commodore 64/16/Plus/4, Oric-1/Oric Atmos, Amstrad CPC, Acorn Electron, Dragon 32/64, Atari 8-bit, MSX, IBM PC, Atari ST, Amiga

Football Manager 2
Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Amiga, Atari ST, PC
World Cup Edition: Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, MSX, Amiga, Atari ST, PC

Football Manager 3
Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, PC

ReleaseFootball Manager: 1982
Football Manager 2: 1988
World Cup Edition: 1990
Football Manager 3: 1992
Genre(s)Sports game
Business simulation
Mode(s)Single player

Football Manager is a video game series published and developed by Addictive Games, the label set up by the game's creator Kevin Toms. The first game was released in 1982.[1] It was then ported to most home computers during the 1980s and spawned several sequels: Football Manager 2[2] (1988) and Football Manager World Cup Edition[3] (1990), both designed by Kevin Toms, and finally Football Manager 3[4] (1992), without Toms' involvement. Football Manager 3 sold poorly, and as a result the series came to an end. The series was claimed to have sold over a million copies by 1992.[5] The game was to start a whole new genre of computer game, the football management simulation.

Football Manager[edit]

Development and release[edit]

Toms developed the first game on a Video Genie, a clone of the Tandy TRS-80. This was a text only game. It was converted to the Sinclair ZX80 and ZX81[1] and Toms created the software label Addictive Games to launch the game in 1982. It was then ported to the ZX Spectrum[6] with added animated graphics showing match highlights.

The game was a huge success and was ported to a wide range of systems between 1984 and 1987.[7][8] While the Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, BBC Micro, Commodore 64, MSX and PC versions, kept or improved all features such as the match highlights graphics, all others (including the Acorn Electron, Atari 8-bit [9] Commodore 16 and Plus/4 were, like the original, text only.


Text based screen on the ZX Spectrum
Graphical highlight section on the ZX Spectrum. A goal has just been scored

The game was written entirely in BASIC[10][11] and, apart from the match highlights on some versions, used only text displays and keyboard entry. The player chooses a team and then must try to earn promotion from the fourth to the first division (although the player can then keep playing for as many seasons as they wish). The player also competes in the FA Cup. While the team and player names are real, they are not accurately represented so whichever team is selected, the player always starts in the fourth division and their team is randomly populated with players. Each player has a skill rating and an energy rating. Players must be rested to renew their energy rating or they become injured. The players' skill and energy ratings also change at the end of the season. The team has ratings of defence, midfield and attack (the total skills of all defenders, midfielders or attackers selected), energy (an average of all selected players) and morale (which increases when the team wins and decreases when they lose). The player can select their team to balance the skills based on the opposing team's ratings (e.g. to increase the defence rating if the opposition has a high attack rating).

As the match is played, the screen is updated if a goal is scored. For versions with animated graphics highlights, attempts on goal are shown in isometric 3D at either end of the pitch with a scoreboard showing the current score. The player can not affect the game while it is in progress.

The player must also balance finances. Weekly income and expenditure is calculated and bank loans can be taken out. There is also a basic player transfer system. Random players become available to buy which the player can bid for. If the squad reaches the maximum of 16, no players will be available to buy. The player can also list their own players for sale and then accept or reject bids.

Game progress can be saved at any time. A customiser utility was included with the game so players could rename the teams and players.[12]


Football Manager was a commercial hit, selling 500,000 copies in its first six years available.[13]

The game was well received by the gaming press although Sinclair User did comment on the lack of realism of the teams and individual player ratings.[14] The excitement of watching the game in progress was often seen as the highlight of the game.[14] Electron User claimed the game was "one of the best strategy games available for home computers" with reviewer Dave Carlos stating "I doubt that this game will ever be bettered".[15]

The game was nominated in the 1983 Golden Joystick Awards for best strategy game, eventually coming second to the Melbourne House adventure game The Hobbit.[16] In 1985, Tony Hetherington of Computer Gamer magazine included the game in "The Spectrum Collection" - "15 classic games that all Spectrum owners should have".[11]

By 1991, when reviewing the £2.99 budget release, Amiga Power awarded a score of only 19% as the game had been "out-featured by practically every other game in the genre" but was "still massively addictive" and referred to as a "classic" and "one of the legends of computer gaming".[17] The ZX Spectrum version was voted the 26th best game of all time in a special issue of Your Sinclair magazine in 2004.[18]

Football Manager 2[edit]

Development and release[edit]

Following the sale of Addictive Games to Prism Leisure Corporation in 1987, Kevin Toms concentrated on creating a second Football Manager game.[19] Unlike the original BASIC only game, the sequel required machine code which meant working with a number of developers for various systems.[19] For the ZX Spectrum version, this was Bedrock Software.[20] Unlike the first game that was stagger-released over a period of 5 years, Football Manager 2 was launched on all formats at the same time in June 1988, although it was available on a much smaller range of systems - Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Amiga, Atari ST and PC.[21]

Unlike the first game, there was no customiser utility with the original release but in 1989, Football Manager 2 Expansion Kit was released, both as a stand alone release[22] and packed in with Football Manager 2.[23] As well as being able to rename teams and players, this offered the chance to start in division one or play in other leagues such as the 'Euro Super League' or as a national team in a 'World Championship'.


The team selection screen on the C64. The player is placing attackers to balance the opponent's defenders

Gameplay is very similar to the first game, with mostly text based screens (although they are more colourful than the original and usually contain at least basic graphical elements). Input is mostly by moving a cursor (using either joystick or mouse depending on system), rather than entering numbers. The game again starts the player, whichever team is chosen, in division four with a random allocation of players and the player must attempt to gain promotion to division one but now, as well as the FA Cup, the player can also compete in the League Cup so eventually attempt to win the treble.

Added features include team sponsorship, a training screen which allows the choice of long or short passing tactics and the ability to place your players in positions on the pitch. This is done by moving boxes representing your players on a graphical screen while comparing individual opponent players' skills (although, like the first game, the opposing players are not named). This means opposing strikers can be man marked. Another main difference to the first game is the graphical highlights, now on all versions, that now feature the full length of the pitch over three screens rather than just the goal attempts. Also, at half time, substitutions and formation changes can be made.


Critical reception was generally positive although there were mixed reviews. In a highly positive review, based mainly on the ST version, Julian Rignall in C&VG said the game was "simply a football fan's dream come true. It's a beautifully structured and presented game and is engrossing, challenging and very, very addictive" awarding a score of 9/10.[24] Sinclair User were similarly impressed, giving a score of 94% concluding that it is "an improvement on a legendary game. It still looks tatty but plays brilliantly".[25] In contrast, Tony Dillon in a review for Commodore User gave the game only 2/10, labelling the game "a very big letdown" with "little or no improvement over the original".[26] Additionally he said the mouse control on the Amiga version was "apallingly bad" (a criticism also levelled in the positive C&VG review).[24][26]

Football Manager World Cup Edition[edit]

Development and release[edit]

Football Manager World Cup Edition was again designed by Kevin Toms with various programmers for different systems (including Bedrock Software for all 8-bit versions). A main figure in the management of the game was lost and not replaced and with the deadline of the World Cup dictating the release date, Toms felt the game was rushed and unfinished.[19] This was the last involvement Toms had with either the series or Addictive Games.

The game was released in Summer 1990, to tie in with Italia '90, on all platforms Football Manager 2 had been as well as the MSX. The game was released in a 'big box' with World Cup wallchart and competitions including a chance to feature on the cover of the upcoming Football Manager 3 along with Kevin Toms (although this was never honoured as Toms had no involvement with that game).


The team talk screen on the Atari ST. The player can choose one of the three possible responses

Gameplay was radically changed from the previous two games. The player chooses a national team and must qualify for and then compete in the World Cup (although choosing champions Argentina or hosts Italy skips qualification). Player names can be entered at the start of the game ensuring they are correct.

Although there is no financial element or any transfers, the basic team management elements of the previous games are still retained. There is more detail in the team set up such as each player being given tactics. The highlights are again shown over 3 screens (although played from top to bottom rather than left to right) but there is also the option of watching from an overhead view of the whole pitch.

The main addition to the game is the ability to talk to your players in the dressing room and to the press. A graphical screen is shown and the player can choose from a set list of phrases to answer reporters' questions before a game and motivate the team in the dressing room at half time. This affects the team's morale which in turn affects their performance.


The game was not widely reviewed but Your Sinclair gave a broadly positive review, particularly praising the new team talk and reporters' questions but questioning if it could win over new fans. It gave a score of 82% concluding "it's slick, well-programmed and it's got more depth than Marianas Trench [sic], but if you don't like management games you'll probably end up using the pictures of Kevin Toms to throw darts at."[27] Spanish magazine MicroHobby gave the game a score of 60%.[28] The Spectrum version of the game went to number 2 in the UK sales charts, behind Italy 1990.[29]

Football Manager 3[edit]

Development and release[edit]

Football Manager 3, while already planned when Kevin Toms was still working with Prism Leisure on the World Cup Edition, was created without any involvement from the series' creator. Toms cited 'artistic differences' for the breakdown in the relationship between himself and Prism.[19] The game was instead developed by Brian Rogers of Bedrock Software, who had actually been involved in programming the series since Football Manager 2.

Release of the game was delayed. While a playable demo of the ZX Spectrum version was included on the cover tape of the September 1991 issue of Your Sinclair, with an expected release date 'a couple of months' later,[30] the game was finally released at the end of 1992. Also, though versions were planned and advertised[5] for all of the platforms Football Manager 2 had been released on, the ST and Amiga versions were never released.[31] The screenshots in the advertisements[5] are not of any version that was released suggesting an ST or Amiga version had been developed.

As the 8-bit systems were declining in popularity by 1992 and there were more complex competitors available for PC (and the other 16-bit systems that the game was never released for) such as Championship Manager and Premier Manager, the game sold poorly.


The manager's office screen on the PC. The picture of the team is highlighted so the player will go to the training screen

The game is completely redesigned and bears little resemblance to the previous installments. The game centres around a graphical screen of the manager's office with different parts of the game accessed by clicking on various items (e.g. the computer screen for results and fixtures, the picture of the team for training etc.). The game features a full 92 team league system (including the Charity Shield for the first time) and the teams begin the first season in the correct divisions (the 91/92 season for most versions, the 92/93 season including the newly formed Premier League in the C64 version)[32] but the player's team, as in previous games, will always begin in the bottom division. The players, however, do not resemble real footballers and have random names (always shown with middle initials). The game always begins with a team of aging players with low skill ratings.

There is much more detail for individual player attributes with three endurance and five skill values that can be altered through training. Each player also has a face which is shown when picking the team. Player contracts have to be negotiated and out of contract players will leave the club. The transfer market is much improved with each team in the league having named players for the first time with histories that can be studied when deciding to buy a new player. The matches are shown side-on with the whole pitch on screen. They are also meant to represent the whole game rather than edited highlights. Text commentary is shown at the bottom of the screen as the match is played. Unlike the previous two games, there is no chance to change tactics or substitute at half time. The team talk and reporter elements are also removed in this version.


The game was not as well received as previous versions. Philip Lindey in Sinclair User suggested it was "difficult to get excited about Football Manager 3" and that it was overpriced, giving an overall score of 73%.[33] Stuart Campbell in Your Sinclair thought the game was "not quite up to the standard of Football Manager 2, to be honest, with vastly inferior presentation and graphics, and lots of hanging around while the computer thinks and doesn't seem to be working properly", giving a score of 70%.[34] Amstrad Action awarded the game only 38%,[35] again claiming it did not live up to Football Manager 2.


In 2001 Paul Robson developed an accurate remake of the original game by reverse engineering in C.[36] This remake has since been ported to the GP2X[37] and Google Android by Jonn Blanchard.

The Football Manager name was revived in 2005 by Sports Interactive as a continuation for their Championship Manager series after they lost the naming rights following a split with their publishers Eidos Interactive.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b Press advertisement from Sinclair User, May 1982
  2. ^ Football Manager 2 at
  3. ^ Football Manager World Cup Edition at HOL Amiga Database
  4. ^ Football Manager 3 at
  5. ^ a b c Football Manager 3 advertisement[permanent dead link] reproduced at World of Spectrun
  6. ^ "Football Manager". MobyGames. Retrieved 2009-09-02.
  7. ^ Press advertisement from Micro Adventurer, July 1984
  8. ^ Football Manager at
  9. ^ Converted to Atari Basic by Colin Lennox.
  10. ^ Interview with Kevin Toms for the blog The Ball is Round
  11. ^ a b "The Spectrum Collection", Tony Hetherington, Computer Gamer, August 1985
  12. ^ Football Manager Original instructions[permanent dead link] reproduced at Acorn Electron World
  13. ^ Staff (1992). "The Encyclopedia of the Amiga; Activision to Adventure". Amiga Format (Special Issue 4): 10.
  14. ^ a b "Getting as Sick as a Parrot", Sinclair User, February 1983
  15. ^ Football Manager review, Dave Carlos, Electron User, April 1986
  16. ^ "The Golden Joystick Award", C&VG, Issue 29
  17. ^ Football Manager review, Amiga Power, July 1991
  18. ^ "Top 50 Games of All Time". Your Sinclair. Imagine Publishing. November 2004.
  19. ^ a b c d "Interview: Kevin Toms", Simon Brew, Den of Geek, June 2008
  20. ^ Football Manager 2 at Bedrock Software
  21. ^ Football Manager 2 press advertisement reproduced at Lemon Amiga
  22. ^ Football Manager 2 Expansion Kit at World of Spectrum
  23. ^ Football Manager 2 + FM2 Expansion Kit at World of Spectrum
  24. ^ a b Football Manager II review, Julian Rignall, C&VG, Issue 81, July 1988
  25. ^ Football Manager 2 review, Graham Taylor, Sinclair User, Issue 76, July 1988
  26. ^ a b Football Manager 2 review, Tony Dillon, Commodore User, August 1988
  27. ^ Football Manager World Cup Edition review, Jon, Your Sinclair, September 1990
  28. ^ Football Manager World Cup Edition review, MicroHobby, Issue 202
  29. ^
  30. ^ Football Manager 3 playable demo, Your Sinclair, September 1991
  31. ^ Football Manager 3 (unreleased) at Hall of Light
  32. ^ Football Manager 3 Original instructions reproduced at Stadium64
  33. ^ Football Manager 3 review, Philip Lindey, Sinclair User, January 1993
  34. ^ Football Manager 3 review, Stuart Campbell, Your Sinclair, January 1993
  35. ^ Football Manager 3 review, Amstrad Action, Issue 87, December 1992
  36. ^ Paul Robson's SDL Games "Football Manager - A remake of the (in)famous Sinclair Spectrum Football Manager game, complete with stick-man graphics. This is reverse engineered, so it should play identically. Finished. fm-0.99.tar.gz" (May 2004)
  37. ^ GP2X version at GP2X Archive (archived)