Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has become a major owner of Norwegian esports management agency Ulti Agency, signalling the Man United boss’ first foray into the ever-growing esports industry.
United boss Solskjaer has previously spoken about his passion for gaming, with the Norwegian manager telling Dagbladet in 2013 that the popular football management simulation video game franchise Football Manager helped prepare him for his managerial career, also revealing that he used to play the game when he was at Old Trafford as a player.
But now the 48-year-old has demonstrated his passion for competitive gaming by investing in Norwegian esports management agency Ulti Agency, acquiring a 12.5% stake in the company and becoming a major owner.
The agency manages and represents esports talents worldwide, with only professional CS:GO (Counter-Strike Global Offensive) players on their books currently, using a similar model as in soccer.
On becoming a major owner of Ulti Agency, Solskjaer recognised the popularity of the industry and revealed why he decided to invest in the company.
“Esports have become bigger than anyone would have dared to predict just a few years ago,” Solskjaer said in an Ulti Agency press release.
“It spreads the joy of sports worldwide.
“That is exciting, and Ulti Agency is a company with big plans.
“They’re all about seeing the players and giving them a chance.”
Solskjear’s agent, Jim Solbakken, has also acquired a 12.5% stake in the agency through his company Sir Solution AS.
“I have wanted to do something in esports for a long time,” said Solbakken.
“But it had to be with the right people and in a way that adds something to the sport. I have found that here.
“Ulti Agency takes experience and knowledge from traditional sports – and combines that with a real understanding and passion for esports.
“The possibilities are limitless. There are already more than 1,000 highly paid professional e-sport players in the world.
“Strong and powerful organizations and teams are emerging, but there are only a handful of serious agents to support them. Both Ulti Agency and we as owners have a lot to contribute.
“We also see that soccer clubs are currently investing heavily in e-sports, which makes this extra interesting for us.”
Ulti Agency say that the parties will not comment on the purchase price, but their Chief Executive, Asgeir Kvalvik, says the new owners will help them realise their plans.
“We are thrilled to have Ole Gunnar and Jim onboard,” said Kvalvik.
“This move is a recognition of esports.
“They have the experience, commitment, and knowledge to push Ulti Agency forward and help define our entire field.
“That is very important, because we have grand ambitions and the possibilities are unlimited.”