Esports Insider Forum Series: How can clubs can get involved with Esports

Last week saw the first in a regular series of events from Esports Insider, and they started off on a topic that has been much debated here at Digital Sport: Esports.

A packed crowd at the Fnatic Bunkr in Shoreditch, was treated to a panel that included Fnatic CEO Wouter Sleijffers, VfL Wolfsburg FIFA pro David Bytheway, football and Esports commentator Gary Taphouse and was overseen by Fortuara CEO Ibrahim Taylor.

Their objective was to discuss and give advice to an audience that included City Football Group and Tottenham Hotspur, on the hows and whys of football clubs (and traditional sports clubs more generally) getting into Esports. The best ways to go about entering the industry and some the opportunities that exist if they do.

One of the main assertions, which have borne out in recent warnings that the broadcasters, and right holders, are catering to an ageing demographic. David Bytheway was of the view that “football is losing the younger audience, and that’s why Wolfsburg got into this”.

But aside from wanting to attract a younger audience and take advantage of this new way engaging with them, do teams actually know what they are doing?

Sleijffers pointed to Fnatic’s owner connection with AS Roma as an obvious reason for their partnership but he also stated that they’ve been approached by a number of major football clubs interested in entering the space but unsure on the hows and whys.

But what the panel did agree on is that FIFA is the easiest way for them to enter into the market. Though a very small part of Esports, FIFA has been integral in the rise of a number of online influencers, such as KSI and Spencer FC. FIFA gaming has been a massive part in the rise of the YouTuber over the last few years, though many have now branched out to other platforms and topics.

Competitive gaming is a different ball game though. Fans watch FIFA online as much for the banter and jokes as they do the action, with many of the influencers not actually being that good at the game itself! But they have the personalities to make it successful. How much this will cross over, and how can clubs get involved in a more official way is still to be determined.

But can they do more than just football? Taphouse in particular pointed to the likes of Schalke, PSG and Valencia who have (somewhat) successfully moved into other Esports titles such as League of Legends and Rocket League.

These discussions are certainly not new, and news on Esports within pro sports as we know it has certainly gotten less as the year has gone by. But with the Eredivisie launching their own league involving all the league’s teams a few months back, and the Celtic Esports League ran by our friends at Sportego, there is more to it than just talk finally.

The next in the Esports Insider Forum Series on 31st August, you can find more details at

About author

Daniel McLaren
Daniel McLaren 693 posts

Dan McLaren launched Digital Sport (formerly UK Sports Network) back in January 2010 and has worked in the digisport industry with adidas, We Are Social, Copa90 and Pulse amongst others. He's now a freelance social media guy living in the East Midlands and podcast host with the Digital Sport podcast on Audioboom, iTunes and Stitcher Radio.

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