In what will comfortably be one of the stranger stories this week, there’s a report floating around that Manchester United — yes, the Premier League club — has got their eye on esports. Specifically Overwatch.
The report comes from eSports News UK, which claims the football giants have gotten themselves mixed up in a bidding war with esports legends Fnatic. The two are trying to bid for an already-sponsored Overwatch roster based in Europe.
Fnatic supposedly made a counter-offer, although Daniel Rosen writes that the Premier League club was “unfazed” by the move. An unnamed third party is also interested, which has led some to speculate that the German Bundesliga club FC Schalke 04 may be involved.
FC Schalke recently acquired a European League of Legends team, which played their first game last week, and their head of esports Tim Reichert has already declared that they wanted to expand into Dota 2 and Overwatch.
It’s not the strangest report in the world, given that many other sporting owners and organisations have either expanded or considered expanding into esports. The curious part is the fact that Manchester United aren’t the most digitally active football team: their website is in dire need of a refresh, their Instagram is fairly inactive for something with 11.2 million followers and their YouTube presence is driven largely by fans.
But the prospect of the Red Devils getting into esports is hardly far-fetched. People will still argue until they’re blue in the face about how esports isn’t a real sport, but it hasn’t stopped the sporting world from investing heavily in games like Counter-Strike, League of Legends, and now Overwatch it seems.