Sunday 25 August 2019

Football agent Byrne to launch eSports agency


Margaret Byrne’s First for Players agency negotiated the deal that took Yannick Bolasie to Everton Photo: Getty
Margaret Byrne’s First for Players agency negotiated the deal that took Yannick Bolasie to Everton Photo: Getty

Simon Rowe

Leading football agent Margaret Byrne is preparing to launch a new sports agency to cash in on the booming e-gaming sector.

Just one year on from launching her sports management firm First For Players, the former Sunderland FC chief executive is targeting the lucrative world of eSports - the name given to competitive video gaming.

Her new firm, First For E Players, will represent up-and-coming gamers who have the potential to be the digital gaming stars of tomorrow.

Although Byrne declined to comment when contacted, it is understood the new venture will seek to replicate the success of her football agency by securing a top flight roster of international gaming talent. Egaming is a global business with 200 million players and an estimated worth of $1bn. Live video gaming is the world's fastest-growing sport with star players competing for prize money of up to $20m.

Byrne, who hails from Dromintee in south Armagh, founded First for Players in April 2016. The agency now represents over 30 Premier League and League of Ireland players on its roster.

First For Players negotiated the transfer of DR Congo midfielder Yannick Bolasie from Crystal Palace to Everton on a five-year deal for £25m. The company website describes the agency as "specialists in top-flight sports management" and "an experienced agency with a player-centric philosophy that puts footballers first".

It is understood that First For E Players will be officially launched next month.

The rise of eSports has been phenomenal in recent years, and it is even an official medal sport at the 2022 Asian Games in China. Like football, eSports tournaments usually culminate in a final held in a major arena, such as the League of Legends World Championship, the Electronic Sports World Cup, and the World eSports Games in China.

Byrne resigned from her £663,000-a-year Sunderland post, admitting she made "a serious error of judgment" in allowing Adam Johnson to play for the club while on bail. Johnson was jailed for six years for grooming and sexual activity with a child.

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