The biggest sports franchise in the world is reportedly getting into esports.
Manchester United is looking to buy a top European Overwatch team, eSports News UK reported today. The massive football club is bidding against what some might call the Manchester United of esports: Fnatic. The storied esports club is looking to expand into Overwatch after their original team left to found their own organization.
Fnatic has already put in an offer, but Manchester United is “unfazed” by the competition, according to the report. That’s no surprise considering Manchester United pulls in more than $500 million in revenue and is valued at over $3.3 billion.
One likely target might be Reunited, currently the top Overwatch team in Europe. The core of Reunited flew the Fnatic flag during their time as a top Battlefield 4 team before the release of Overwatch, but quickly left Fnatic to form their own organization. Now that the game is released as a smash hit and Reunited has a track record as a top squad, they may be willing to put on the black and orange again. Other top European squads include Creation Esports and Rogue, who recently signed to that new organization headed by a former Enemy Esports founder.
Manchester United isn’t the first football club to target esports recently, and it certainly won’t be the last. Turkish club Beşiktaş jumped into esports by signing a League of Legends team in January 2015. Last month, West Ham United signed FIFA player Sean “Dragonn” Allen and German side FC Schalke jumped into League of Legends by buying Elements. Spanish club Valencia is reportedly investing in the space. Sports executives in the United States are also eyeing esports. Two co-owners of the Sacramento Kings bought into the LCS and founded NRG eSports.
Veteran esports commentator Paul “ReDeYe” Chaloner indicated he’s consulting with a British football club on esports two days ago. Whether that team is Manchester United isn’t clear, but what is clear is that sports clubs are getting into esports in a huge way.
Esports represents an opportunity for sports franchises to use their expertise to jump into a growing new market, and Overwatch, a recently released title with atmospheric esports potential, may be the perfect place to dive in.