Scottish events company Esports Scotland has come under renewed public scrutiny over outstanding payments owed to contractors, players and staff.
The amount of outstanding debt is in the region of £27,000, with the main bulk being owed to those who attended and worked on the Scottish Esports League Season 5 (SEL 5) in November of 2022. James Hood, Founder and CEO of Esports Scotland, told Esports Insider that he hopes to pay all debts by June.
On February 1st, EPIC.LAN Managing Director Jon Winkle claimed on social media that Esports Scotland had failed to update its statutory records on Companies House within 14 days of leaving its previous address, adding that Esports Scotland left the address listed in 2023.
One week later, Winkle shared a document he’d collated that he says lists all debts owed by Esports Scotland that he could find. The majority of these debts were from SEL 5, but the oldest dates back to June 2022. The document includes prize pools, contractors and casters. The overall figure that represents how much Esports Scotland owes totals £26,233. It’s worth noting this document does not include repaid debts.
EPIC.LAN was one of the companies owed money by Esports Scotland for work done at SEL 5. Winkle is currently pursuing legal action against Esports Scotland through the Scottish courts. When asked why he put together the document, Winkle stated: “While we have initiated our own formal legal action, in doing so we started to uncover how deep this particular situation runs and how so many players, contractors and talent were starting to give up after over 400 days because they didn’t know what to do next.
“Everyone has been hearing the excuses and broken promises for so long, we felt that it was important to bring everybody together to try and push for real action to be taken, not words, and also to protect future people in the industry from these appalling business practices that have been going on for way too long now.”
Prior to the release of Jon Winkle’s document, James Hood told Esports Insider that Esports Scotland owed £15,000 in prize pools and £12,000 to contractors. He also claimed that the company had paid £9,000 to people who had completed work for Esports Scotland since SEL 5 in November 2022.
Hood also told Esports Insider he is aiming to finish making the payments by June. His plan to pay back this amount is to use revenue earned from business deals that Esports Scotland currently has in the works. Hood said Esports Scotland will be running more events, focusing on business-to-business deals and doing more work in education, the revenue from which he will put towards outstanding debts.
The lack of payments were originally reported on November 3rd 2023 by Esports News UK and UKCSGO. Those reports indicated that before SEL 5, Esports Scotland switched from grant funding to a sponsorship revenue model in order to pay people faster. However, intended sponsors apparently fell through and those involved were left without payment.
Esports Scotland is a private for-profit company founded in 2017 by James Hood, having hosted its first tournament in 2018. The company has previously had partners in local education such as Dundee and Angus College and more mainstream partners like Lenovo and Currys. Outside of hosting tournaments it also selected the players that represented Scotland at the Commonwealth Esports Championships.
James Hood, the CEO and Founder of Esports Scotland, issued an official statement to Esports Insider: “I sincerely apologise for the payment and prize pool issues with SEL5. I take full responsibility and am actively working to resolve them.
“I’m genuinely saddened by the impact on those I admire and wanted to collaborate with. I’m committed to rectifying the situation and fostering a positive esports community in Scotland. During 2023, I created an advisory board and took the time to really look inside myself and build a strategy for the future. I have made payments through consultancy and activations, and once other plans come to fruition, I will have the rest of the payments sorted.”