Originally created by Sports Interactive co-founders Paul and Oliver Collyer in 1992, Championship Manager became an instant hit amongst football fans. The Collyer brothers continued to improve upon the game - with the aid of a growing development team - each year, making incremental feature and data updates in successive versions. The series quickly gained a reputation as the most in-depth and realistic simulation within its genre. Sports Interactive would overhaul the game engine and graphical interface every few years up until the release of Championship Manager 4, which was the first installment to include a 2D match engine.
Championship Manager Season 03/04 was the last game in the series to be developed by its creators. Beautiful Game Studios took over development of the series after Sports Interactive chose to switch publisher from Eidos to Sega, with the Championship Manager name remaining with Eidos, but the codebase following Sports Interactive. Consequently, Championship Manager 5 marked a new beginning for the series, as it was built from scratch by an entirely different team to the previous games. The series now competes directly with Sports Interactive's new Football Manager franchise.