When our team starts losing, many of us think we could do a better job managing than the people in charge. But do we dare try for real? Sports management games give you that chance and judging by their legions of fans, lots of people want to try. Whether you’re looking for one of the many football games online or another kind of sports sim, this article will save you time and money. I’ve focused on sports management simulations you can play for free and separate the contenders from the pretenders. You can thank me after you’ve spent hours playing the free sports simulation games below.
Freekick is probably the best football manager out there. Its match engine puts it head and shoulders above the rest because when you make a tactical change, you can see the results immediately. You can really tweak your team settings to turn any group of players into a winner if you play to their strengths. Tactical settings are very deep yet intuitive and easy to use. When you score or give up a goal, you know exactly why and which players are responsible… or to blame. Training options are easy to use so you can keep your players playing up to their potential. Add to that an active transfer market and customizable youth pulls and you’ve got one of the best sports management sims out there.
Seasons take 14 weeks with one or two games a week, depending on how long you survive in the cups.
Freekick also boasts a lively international community and you are assigned a mentor almost immediately. Mine helped turn my beginner team into a contender in just a few weeks. You start in a league from your home country and promote and demote between divisions based on your position. There are also League cups, International cups, and a World Cup. Like most online football games, you can pay for extras like deeper stats and uniforms but you’re at no competitive disadvantage if you play for free.
Powerplay manager is one of the longest running sports management sims out there. It’s got a huge international community, based largely in Europe. This online football game provides lots of options for improving your team, from detailed training settings to hiring staff and upgrading your arena and training facilities. These upgrades are really where this sports management sim is won and lost, by giving your team the best tools to improve.
Seasons take about 3 months with games on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Like most football games online, you take over a team in your country of origin and compete to promote and demote through divisions set up in a pyramid structure. The transfer market is worldwide and active, where you can bid on players from around the world to come play for your team.
Tactical settings are basic; it’s hard to tell exactly why you won or lost sometimes which can be frustrating. Right now, Powerplay Manager offers hockey, handball, and football games with many more sports on the development horizon. Again, like most online football games, you can pay for extras like deeper stats, logos, and uniforms but you’re at no competitive disadvantage if you play for free.
It’s A Goal
It’s a Goal offers an interesting take on a football manager simulation. Most online football managers give you a team when you sign up and you’re stuck with them forever, no matter how well you do. In this management sim, you can be fired if you do a bad job or, if your team isn’t measuring up, you can quit and apply to be manager of a better club in a better division. Consequently, you don’t get stuck with a bunch of undeveloped scrubs at the beginning like a lot of games. You can even take over a team in the premier division if there’s an opening which gives you access to star players right from the start.
Competition is set up in separate leagues, each with multiple divisions set up in a strict ladder structure. The leagues don’t play each other except in champion’s league play much like the English Premier League, Serie A, and Bundesliga etc.
The menus for training and setting up your team could be easier to use but if you’re willing to put in the time, there’s a lot of customizability available. The transfer market operates a bit more like an actual football transfer market. You list your player for transfer and then take bids until you find one acceptable. There is no time limit unlike most football games. Overall, this is a decent manager game with a lot of potential. There is a “subscription” option but it’s unclear exactly what that gets you.
Trophy Manager makes the list on the strength of its animated match replays. That’s right, I said animated. It’s the only football manager I could find that gives you more than text during matches and the animation looks great.
Seasons take about ten weeks. Games happen three times a week, on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, with youth pulls on Monday. Training is easy to use, players train groups of skills at one time and you select which groups with a graphical interface. You can also view your players’ skills anywhere in the game by mousing over the player’s name, which anyone who plays a lot of football manager games will appreciate.
Divisions are set up in a pyramid structure with promotion and demotion as you’d expect. Setting tactics is also done via graphical interface, which is a nice idea but too glitchy at the moment. Hopefully, it improves as the game develops. VIP gives you too many options to list here.
Overall, trophy manager could be the best sim out there, if the match engine catches up with the great graphics.
Expert Eleven almost didn’t make the list but had enough interesting features that it squeaked in. Seasons play out over 14 weeks, playing one game a week until you’ve played each team in your division twice. Divisions are set up in the typical pyramid structure with top teams promoting and bottom teams demoting.
You have an assistant manager who will set your lineup if you want to focus more on developing players or winning now. He’ll also substitute players automatically if they’re injured during the match. The AI is pretty good, his decisions usually make sense.
Match replays are too basic to know why something is happening, you get to see goals, injuries, and penalties and that’s about it. The transfer market is easy to use and active.
Training can be confusing as your players just have one skill rating, not individual ratings like “scoring” etc. The only improvements you see come in the offseason, based on the players “development value,” which is some mix of how much they play and how many times you train them.
The premium version gives you the chance to own more teams, in depth stats, team logos, uniforms, and the chance to play in VIP only leagues. Overall, this is a good, simple sim that you can play with very little time investment. .
Top Eleven is the only free online football game on the list that you can play through facebook and on your mobile phone. It is one of the simpler football managers out there but its simplicity and ease of access and use make it extremely addictive. Rather than the traditional pyramid or ladder division setup, your manager starts at level one and if you finish in the top 7, you move up to the next level where you’re randomly assigned to a league with managers at the same level.
Seasons take one month. If you watch the matches live, you get a possession bonus and can make substitutes and tactical changes during the match. Otherwise, you set your lineup, tactics, and subs and the sim follows your instructions.
Transfers are timed but you need tokens, the game currency to bid. You get a free token every day you sign in and there are options to watch movie trailers and ads to get more. Of course, you can buy more if those two free options don’t give you enough tokens. I haven’t bought tokens yet but someone must be as Top Eleven’s website which bills the game as the internet’s “Most Played Football Manager.” Top Eleven is a great option if you need your football manager fix while you’re on the go.
If you like your sports simulations fast and furious, Manager League is the game for you. It burns through a 30 game season in a month. Manager league gives you great season by season stats, which is a glaring oversight in lot of sports manager games. Unfortunately, the tactical options are a bit too basic but still serviceable.
Credits are the in game currency and allow you to play friendly matches and tournaments, which provide training for your players. Credits also give you access to certain arena upgrades.
Match replays are descriptive and fun to watch although they can get a little repetitive. The transfer market is active but could be easier to use. Divisions are set up in a pyramid structure and get very competitive as you get higher up. If you like having multiple games a day, this is the manager game for you.
Broken Bat Baseball
By far, the best free baseball manager games out there because it’s one of the only ones that works. Leagues are set up in a pyramid structure, with teams promoting and demoting between them.
The overall interface could be better, as it’s hard to keep track of your player’s skills while setting lineups but it works with some effort. As far as baseball manager games go, it’s really the only option, and it’s a good one.
This baseball manager game allows you to take over an existing team which cuts out a lot of the tedium of other sports sims and contend from the start. You draft youth players from either college, high school, or international leagues and develop them in your minor leagues.
It’s a slow burn, as seasons take a couple months but its good fun.
I haven’t played the sims below but they come highly recommended if you’re looking for a free simulation game for one of these sports.
From the Pavilion – Cricket
Blackout Rugby – Rugby
Red Zone Action – American Football