Sheffield Wednesday are the latest football club to start an esports team. The club will be called Sheffield Wednesday Esports (SWFC Esports) and will be part of competitions like FIFA 23 Global Series and the Virtual Pro League. It makes sense to start off by competing in events around the most popular video game based on football.
Rob Hawden Joins as the Executive Head
Rob Hawden, formerly of Rotherham United, has been appointed as the executive head. Hawden aims to get local talent on board as part of a grassroots initiative.
Here’s what he had to say on his appointment:
“I am really happy to be joining such a big and historic club. I am here to take SWFC to the top of the Esports ladder and become the top professional club on the Pro Clubs scene. We intend to build a sustainable infrastructure adapting our Community Programme’s core principles of health, wellbeing, inclusion and education. The gaming community is vast and it’s important as a club that we instil the right values into our esports team and the brand.”
Sheffield Wednesday Esports will be battling against the likes of Betclic Apogee, Galatasaray, Queen’s Park Rangers and Maribor in the Virtual Pro League. Pro Clubs is unique in that it uses an 11v11 format like the actual sport, which requires teamwork, as opposed to the 1v1 format followed in the FIFA Global Series.
A New Trend on the Rise
This trend of football clubs coming up with esports teams isn’t likely to die down anytime soon. It’s not just football clubs but even football players are part owners of esports teams. The likes of Mesut Ozil and Gareth Bale are more well-known for their association with esports but even legends from the ‘80s like Ruud Gullit have sensed opportunity in this market.
In some ways, this sort of alliance shouldn’t surprise anyone. Sportsmen lead short careers as players and have to start a second chapter soon after. Many find work within the sport but there are many others who need a change of scenery.
Owing sports teams is quite common because many players already have a footing within the sporting industry and what it takes to be a competitive but they also have a list of contacts that should be available to them when necessary to take initiative.
Esports is certainly a major global sport – and if it isn’t yet, it will soon become one. It’s only natural for clubs that have been founded through the most popular sport in the world to flex their arms and look for new sources of generating revenue to stay competitive.
Sheffield Wednesday are a historic football club, the fifth oldest in English history, but haven’t played in the Premier League since 1999-2000 season. History counts for little when money is so decisive in dictating how a club performs today and this is a great chance for Sheffield Wednesday to make a statement in another sport. The club’s own story started as a cricket club in 1820. The club is no stranger to diversification and its importance in sustaining a club.
If the esports team is successful, it would also be a great way for the younger fans of the club to identify with a winning team. As things stand, it’s hard to see Sheffield Wednesday get back to its former glory in the football space. Younger fans might find themselves attending games and cheering on the football team through obligation. An esports team could give the youngsters who support the club, the club itself and the community some new drive.