The English Premier League, the top soccer league in England, has an estimated global audience of over 4 billion people. A recent report by the UK’s Daily Mail found that 17 of the 20 teams in the EPL had signed commercial crypto deals.
Fan Token Firms
The report found that teams such as West Ham and Southampton were seeking to monetize interactions with fans via fan tokens. With these tokens, fans are given a voice in how some of the club’s decisions are made. Fan tokens are used to monetize small decisions within the clubs. Experts believe that these commercial deals could replace the lucrative deals that sports clubs in the UK have with gambling firms. The UK government is reportedly looking into a proposal to ban betting ads.
17 Of 20 Premier League Clubs Have Signed Crypto Deals
According to the Daily Mail report, 17 out of 20 clubs in the EPL have one or more commercial deals with crypto firms. However, it has not all been smooth sailing for these deals. For instance, West Ham’s fans objected to a proposed fan tokens deal with Socios, which sells club-specific tokens that give holders a minor role in how clubs make decisions. The company has already signed a similar deal with a French soccer club.
While West Ham canceled the deal, many other clubs such as Manchester City, Arsenal, Aston Villa, and Everton have already signed deals with the company. Millions of tokens are sold at once with the club getting half from the initial sale, while Socios keeps the rest.
According to the CEO of Socios, Alexandre Dreyfus, nearly 100 of the biggest sports organizations in the world have agreed to join Socios. Dreyfus added that:
“These are huge businesses, who do their due diligence; that simply does not happen if you are not a serious, viable operation and, in our case, one that’s determined to deliver something very valuable for our partners and their fans.”
In September, Southampton signed a deal with learncrypto.com as its official training kit partner.
Players Marketing Crypto
Besides EPL club deals, soccer players have been marketing crypto projects, including NFTs. For instance, James Rodriquez, who plays for Everton, announced that he would launch a crypto coin called JR10 in 2018. The initial sale for the tokens was over in 12 seconds during which $500,000 worth of tokens were sold. Rodriquez is now promoting NFTs via a firm called Zilliqa. However, the company behind JR10 went under soon after, and its domain is now up for sale.
Criticism About Crypto Deals
The Daily Mail reported that there was a lot of criticism regarding crypto deals by EPL teams. A spokesman for the Football Supporters Association said that fan tokens were trying to monetize trivial matters, which could be solved in other ways such as online polls. He also noted that these tokens inserted financial barriers on engagement by genuine supporters.
Due to extensive criticism by fans, some soccer clubs have suspended deals with crypto firms. For instance, Barcelona has completely ditched a contract with 3KEY. Manchester City also suspended their deal with 3KEY one week after announcing the deal.
Commenting on the criticism, Dreyfus said that:
“We’re aware there are bad actors in this space. Companies that have created non-official fan tokens or tokens linked to individual personalities with no utility, platform or real teams to deliver anything tangible.”
While there are genuine crypto firms out there, it is worth noting that regulation around these companies is still in its infancy. Consequently, fans should be wary when investing in firms in the crypto sector. It is thus important to conduct due diligence and only invest a small portion of their portfolio into crypto if one feels confident about it.
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