London, United Kingdom, December 02, 2017 --(PR.com
)-- Major sports clubs that fail to establish esports teams risk losing the next generation of fans, according to an industry expert.
Esports - where professional players compete across a variety of computer games - has exploded in popularity in a short space of time.
Esports attracted an audience of more than 385m in 2016 - a figure expected to rise to close to 600m by 2020.
The audience is predominantly young people and the rise in esports has been cited as a significant reason football clubs are failing to attract younger fans.
BBC Sport’s annual Price Of Football report, published on Wednesday, found that 55% of 18-24 year olds had stopped going to football matches.
Some major European soccer clubs have embraced esports, with PSG and Schalke launching dedicated teams as well as several teams in Turkey and Greece.
But English Premier League clubs are yet to follow.
Nick Smith, of esports betting site Luckbox, said: “English Premier League clubs have barely scratched the surface of esports.
“A couple have signed professional FIFA players but FIFA is not one of the top esports at the moment.
“If clubs want to attract the support they’re used to, they are going to have to look seriously at the industry.”
The popularity of games such as League of Legends, CS:GO and DOTA2 has made the sector more popular than many traditional sports, both in terms of participation and audience.
Famous US names including the New York Yankees are among those to have taken the plunge.
“A big attraction for young people is that they can make a career out of playing games,” Smith said.
“A lot of people in that age bracket are perfectly happy playing games at home. The age of the internet has made it possible to be competitive for millions of people.
“If football clubs want to engage these people, then they must embrace esports.”