An online gaming firm co-owned by David Beckham has announced plans to raise £20m in a London stock market listing.

The company aims to create a global gaming franchise and capitalise on the surging interest in e-sports amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Guild Esports, of which former England and Manchester United footballer is a founding shareholder, will become the first franchise of its kind on the London Stock Exchange if its placing plans go ahead this autumn.

The flotation would value the company at around £50m.

The online gaming market has boomed during the coronavirus crisis as gamers were forced to stay at home during lockdowns – a time when physical sport faced serious disruption.

Guild told potential investors the market had benefited from a “rapidly growing fan base worldwide”, arguing that some esports tournaments had attracted bigger audiences than the Wimbledon tennis championships, the Tour de France, and the US Open.

It projected the market would grow to 646 million global viewers by 2023.

Esports have become a popular audience generating shows

Its statement said: “The company plans to create a leading global franchise by establishing its own esports teams to compete in major esports tournaments and a player training and scouting infrastructure modelled on the talent academies pioneered by Premier League football teams over many years.

“Additionally, David Beckham will use his global influence and following to support the development of the company’s brand and business.

“Guild initially plans to set up and field dedicated teams to compete in four online games: Fortnite; CS: Go; Rocket League and FIFA.”

The company added that it intended to engage the services of up to 20 esports players by the end of 2021 across its chosen game formats.