There could be an official esports version of the football Premier League in the works, according to a now-deleted line in an announcement from Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Wolves have announced a partnership with Dutch-based esports agency Bundled, who already have some of the top FIFA esports players on their books such as GoalMachine21 and YimmieHD. In doing so, they have become the latest Premier League club to officially branch out into FIFA esports, joining the likes of West Ham and Man City.
However, the original Wolves press release - which has since been edited - hinted that an 'ePremier League' may be in the pipeline.
“Stay tuned to these channels,” the club statement read, “for a number of exciting, upcoming initiatives, including the imminent launch of the ePremier League.”
The section in italics have since been removed.
Wait what... Have Wolves just dropped the ball on an ePremier League? As if my morning couldn’t get more exciting 😳 pic.twitter.com/j0NjH0abuS
— Jamie @FIFAeWorldCup (@Jamie_Hore4) August 3, 2018
The Premier League is of course one of the biggest football leagues in the world without an official esports league, with the Bundesliga, LaLiga and MLS all having their own FIFA tournaments.
Some of the eLeagues also act as a way to qualify for the Playoffs for the FIFA eWorld Cup Finals, which are currently being played at the O2 Arena in London.
The prospect of an ePremier League arriving 'imminently' will certainly excite many UK-based FIFA fans and those around the world.
However, with the regular Premier League season just around the corner and currently only a handful teams who have dedicated themselves to esports, time could be short for clubs to find themselves FIFA players. Unless of course, they have been putting teams together behind closed doors for some time now.
It will also be interesting to see whether an ePremier League will follow a similar format to the eMLS, in which each team has its own player.
Alternatively, it could be open to all Football League teams, giving those in the Championship, League 1 and League 2 a chance to compete, with the first 20 teams able to get an esports player signed on forming the ePremier League instead. This is all speculation of course.
"Stay tuned to these channels for a number of exciting, upcoming initiatives, including the imminent launch of the ePremier League"
Wolves' head of marketing, Russell Jones, said in the club statement that Wolves 'wanted to partner with an experienced agency' so that the club could enter the esports market with confidence.
"Bundled’s creative approach to content production and their experience of working with top esports players and teams puts them in a great position to support our ambition in this area.
"The growth in esports is incredible. 160 million people are now tuning in to esports every week, so entering this market presents a huge opportunity for the club to engage with fans in new and exciting ways. We will initially concentrate our eSports efforts around FIFA, which has also seen phenomenal growth."
It will be interesting to see who newly promoted Wolves will choose to represent them on the virtual pitch.
Bundled already have several players at the agency without allegiances to football clubs, including British player Torin Page.
Whether it will be a case of rebranding a current Bundled player like Page or someone completely new is unclear.
However, the prospect of an ePremier League will certainly excite FIFA fans and finally bring the English top flight in line with its European counterparts in esports.