Last week Esports News UK’s eagle-eyed writer Jamie Hore spotted a line in Wolves’ esports press release – which was later removed – suggesting an ePremier League is on the way.
At the FIFA eWorld Cup last weekend in London (which was won by Saudi Arabia’s Msdossary, we put the question to a panel at a press conference, including representatives from EA and FIFA and British pro player Spencer “Gorilla” Ealing.
When asked by Esports News UK about the possibility of an ePremier League in the future, Todd Sitrin, senior VP and GM for EA’s competitive gaming division (pictured far left), said: “It’s always been a strategy of ours to have partnerships with the individual football leagues.
“I think right now we have eight top flight leagues involved and partnering with us – the eMLS and Virtuelle Bundesliga are two great examples of great programmes. So we seek to continue to grow that.
“Unfortunately we have no announcements today around that,” Todd said at the eWorld Cup press conference last weekend. “It goes back to my comments about the virtual world and the real world coming together. We see that in a lot of different places.”
Christian Volk, head of digital marketing at FIFA (second from right), decided not to respond to Esports News UK’s question.
Gorilla (second from left) didn’t comment on the possibility of an ePremier League but later spoke about potential changes to competitive FIFA coming into force next year. He said: “I’m looking forward to seeing what EA and FIFA have planned for next year, the formats and prize pools. FIFA 19 is a new game and it’s exciting.”
“I think right now we have eight top flight leagues involved and partnering with us – the eMLS and Virtuelle Bundesliga are two great examples of great programmes. So we seek to continue to grow that.”
Todd Sitrin, EA
Esports News UK also spoke to UK FIFA casters Richard Buckley and Brandon Smith for their thoughts.
Richard Buckley said: “I think the rumour of an ePremier League has been brewing for a while. We’ve seen a lot of teams get involved with different types of FIFA esports, whether it’s in Ultimate Team or different game modes.
“You’ve got Man City now, Wolves and West Ham, all quite big into FIFA esports. If you look at the rest of Europe you’ve got Ajax, Wolfsburg, Werder Bremen, PSG… these are like the biggest teams from around Europe all there and really at the forefront of it.
“I think the Premier League is the next logical step. Whether it happens or not is up for debate, it’s not our decision, it’s the people higher up at EA and the Premier League making those decisions. I think if it does happen – and you can see the numbers generated at the FIFA eWorld Cup – it’s a positive.”
Brandon Smith added: “We hear these rumours all the time. We’re like (puts hands together): ‘Please, please happen!’
“Of course, we don’t make these decisions. But it would be fantastic if it could happen. How the Premier League is viewed in a footballing capacity as it is… if it jumps into FIFA esports, some of the viewing figures it could get and the whole idea of fan engagement with the younger fans at clubs… If you could get some big giants in there like Manchester United and smaller clubs like Watford and Brighton, it’s really great to see that even three out of the 20 clubs are interested.
“We’ve just got to keep our fingers crossed and hopefully with FIFA 19 or FIFA 20, it will come along and be amazing.”
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
As a long-time gamer having first picked up the NES controller in the late ’80s, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games and others. He worked as head of content for the British Esports Association up until February 2021, when he stepped back to work full-time on Esports News UK and as an esports consultant helping brands and businesses better understand the industry.