English soccer club Manchester United has been reported to be locked in a bidding war against established eSports company Fnatic to sign a competitive European Overwatch team.
A report claims that Manchester United and Fnatic are looking to sign up a team that is already sponsored. Manchester United was the first to approach the team, with Fnatic making a counter-offer. The club then made a counter-offer of its own.
There is a third bidder to sign up the Overwatch team, which is rumored to be another soccer club, specifically the Germany-based Schalke. However, Manchester United was said to be "unfazed" by the other offers and is focused on beating the bid of Fnatic, according to the exclusive report of eSports News UK.
The fact that Manchester United, the third largest football club across the world and one of the most successful teams in British soccer, is bidding to sign up an eSports team could be considered odd by most people. However, it should be noted that many of the biggest teams in England are or have been involved in other ventures and sports. For example, Aston Villa was born when players from a cricket team in Birmingham wanted something to do during the winter season. Real Madrid and Barcelona have also entered other sports such as volleyball and basketball.
Manchester United is not even the first football club to dabble into eSports, with Schalke, Turkey's Besiktas and Spain's Valencia already having done so. Manchester United, however, is the first among the major football clubs to do so, and its entry into eSports with its massive amount of resources and cash could prove to be an exciting development. While Fnatic is among the most valuable organizations in eSports with a current valuation of about $42.5 million, this pales in comparison to the value of Manchester United, which stands at about $3.3 billion.
With Manchester United throwing its name into eSports, perhaps other major football clubs will follow suit. Such a development would further pull competitive video gaming into the mainstream spotlight and would be good for both players and fans.
The popularity and growth of eSports could no longer be denied. At the start of the year, international sports network ESPN launched ESPN ESports, which is its foray into the competitive video gaming scene. The list of high-profile investors into eSports has also been steadily growing, with legendary NBA center Shaquille O'Neal teaming up with New York Yankees star slugger Alex Rodriguez to purchase a stake in NRG eSports.