Eidos have confirmed this morning that Championship Manager 5 will be released later this month, and have also launched an online version of the game.

After several months of delays which saw Eidos miss the pre-Christmas sales period and pass the ball to rival Football Manager 2005, development work finally seems to be nearing an end.

The fifth version of the much-loved football management series has changed hands since developer Sports Interactive parted company with Eidos, and now London-based Beautiful Game Studios have been working on CM5 from the ground up with completely new code which Eidos confidently boast will result in "the most realistic and engaging version ever".

Championship Manager 5 is due for release in the UK on Friday March 18th, with PS2 and Xbox versions expected to follow later in the spring.

Meanwhile an Online version of Championship Manager has been launched at cm-online.com, which requires a paid subscription with the cheapest being a month for 3.99, right up to 34.99 for a full 12 months.

One of six national teams can be managed via the web-based game, and SMS messages to your phone will allow team progress to be followed when you're not at a computer.

Games can either be played against random players from the various CM-Online worlds, or against friends using the "buddy league" feature, allowing for private mini-leagues.

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