Newly-floated sports video games group Semper Fortis Esports is believed to be in advanced talks to sign up Manchester United’s Harry Maguire and Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin as “ambassadors” to promote the business.
Semper Fortis Esports raised £2.6 million in a flotation on the Aquis stock exchange last month, saying it wanted to team up with big name footballers to increase the popularity and sponsorship revenues backing its esports virtual football team.
Football industry sources said talks with Maguire are in their advanced stages with a deal possibly being signed in days. Calvert-Lewin negotiations are thought to be a fortnight or so behind.
Sources stressed there was no guarantee the deals would be done.
The company has Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell as a non-executive director and is chaired by former Football League chairman Keith Harris.
It owns the Esports team Top Blokes, who play in the Rocket League Championship Series.
Thousands of gaming fans flock to watch teams like Top Blokes compete in the league.
Semper Fortis bought Top Blokes last month and hopes to profit from prize money, sponsorship and media revenues. Top Blokes consists of three gamers and a coach.
Other revenue streams are hoped from developing a new technology platform and business-to-business tech sales in the fast-growing Esports world.
Shares in Semper Fortis opened today at 3.2p, giving it a valuation of £14 million, having floated at 1p.
After the Evening Standard first revealed the potential signings this morning, shares jumped 10%.
The company later issued a Stock Exchange notice confirming it is in talks “with leading sports figures”. It added: “The company will make appropriate and timely announcements as and when any brand ambassador contracts are entered into.”
That is a marked improvement on Guild Esports, the gaming firm backed by David Beckham. It floated at 8p but is today trading at just 6.8p despite a recent rally.
Many investors have been baffled by the valuations of virtual sports companies but Bushnell, a five decade veteran of video games, has predicted that for youngsters, esports will soon eclipse real sport for entertainment.
One of the Top Blokes team members is currently said to be injured with a bad thumb.