West Ham becomes first English Premiership football club to sign an e-sports player

West Ham United has become the first football team in the U.K. to embrace e-sports after the club signed pro gamer and World Cup runner-up Sean Allen, aka Dragonn.

Market research firm Newzoo tipped the global e-sports market to reach $463 million this year and grow to surpass $1 billion before 2020, and, while the English Premiership is one of the most visible sports franchises globally, few teams have forayed into digital sports.

Allen lost in last year’s FIFA interactive World Cup final but has qualified for every ranking FIFA e-sports event this year. The 24-year-old has taken West Ham squad number 50, and will wear the club’s shirt while representing them at professional tournaments.

West Ham’s head of digital marketing, Karim Virani, told the club’s website that it had been looking to sign an e-sports professional “for a while.”

“The digital game is incredibly popular with our fans, so we are really excited about what we have in store for them,” Virani added.

“This is a big move for West Ham United. I have heard that Sean is a big player in the e-sports arena so I am delighted that we have managed to secure his services,” manager Slaven Bilic added.