David Beckham’s eSports company hopes to raise £20 million by listing its shares on the London Stock Exchange as it bids to become a leading force in the booming industry.
Guild Esports plans to set up and field dedicated teams to compete in four online games — Fortnite, CS:Go, Rocket League and FIFA.
Guild, whose founding shareholders include former England and Manchester United star Beckham, said it was aiming to create a training and scouting infrastructure modelled on Premier League talent academies.
“Additionally, David Beckham will use his global influence and following to support the development of the company’s brand and business,” it said in a statement.
The company said some eSports tournaments were attracting bigger audiences than events such as Wimbledon and the Tour de France.
“The growing global popularity of eSports has enabled several existing franchises to monetise their activities through sponsorship, retail, merchandising, apparel and product licensing, new media and mobile, broadcasting and tournaments,” said Carleton Curtis, executive chairman of Guild.
“Guild will be the first eSports franchise to join the London stock market, which will provide us with the cache, credibility and capital to fulfil our ambition to become one of the world’s top 10 eSports franchises within three years.”
Guild Esports plans to raise £20 million ($26 million) on the London market and is aiming for a valuation of £50 million.
According to figures given by Guild, by 2019 eSports had a total of 443 million viewers, with the market projected to grow to 646 million viewers by 2023.
The market is projected to be worth an estimated $1.1 billion this year, and $1.55 billion by 2023.
Beckham, who has a broad range of business interests, is the latest high-profile sports star to spot opportunities in the eSports market.
Real Madrid and Wales star Gareth Bale co-owns Ellevens Esports, which was launched earlier this year.
NBA greats Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson and former boxer Mike Tyson have also invested in eSports.