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Champ Man 5 kicked into touch

Under soil heating to blame...

No, it's not really the under-soil heating, nor indeed a lack of ball boys, but the fact remains that Championship Manager 5, Eidos' fifth instalment of its mighty footy franchise had been further delayed, the company citing 'technical reasons' in its latest round of reports to the city.

Eidos hopes Champ Man 5 might still be out in time for Christmas, but reading between the lines, it seems more likely to slip into the new year.

However it's certainly a meaty blow for Eidos in its top of the table clash with Football Manager 2005, Sports Interactive's brand new management challenger, which now has a clear run at the title as it releases on November 5th.

After a relatively amicable split earlier this year, both companies are now rivals for millions of devoted CM fans and if it slips until after the festive season, Champ Man 5 will miss out on the lucrative Christmas market.

Some small consolation is that both Xbox and PS2 versions of Champ Man 5 remain on course, with Eidos saying: "The much anticipated XBox and PS2 versions of Championship Manager 5 remain firmly on track for release in spring 2005, and the online version will be available through subscription shortly after the PC game's release."

The publisher also confirmed that it was still seeking a buyer, although seemed pessimistic over its prospects, adding that it could not guarantee an offer would be made.