It is not necessary to go to the VAR. Without question, the cryptocurrency fever has taken hold in the soccer industry.The master move responds to the name of ‘fan tokens’, digital assets supported by blockchain technology that aim to give a new dimension to the relationship between fans and teams of their loves and can also become a lucrative source of income for clubs. And even an investment opportunity. The formula is not new and is already used by many front-line teams, but it made all the headlines when it was learned that Messi would receive a payment with this instrument after his signing for PSG.
Being a holder of the club’s ‘token’ grants the fan some exclusive benefits and experiences, such as participating in binding surveys launched by the teams, as well as accessing exclusive discounts and promotions. A way of strengthening ties with fans that threatens to become a phenomenon. Socios.com, a blockchain solutions platform for the sports and entertainment industry, leads the landing. In 2021 alone, the number of sports organizations that have joined this platform to develop their own ‘fan tokens’ has tripled, as has the number of users of the app from where they are purchased.
FC Barcelona, Atlético de Madrid and Valencia are some of the Spanish teams that have their own digital assets under the guidance of Socios.com, which is also beginning to land on shirts as a sponsoring brand. The promoters of these cryptocurrencies set the current value of this market at around 460 million euros, but their future prospects are much more ambitious.
As the CEO and founder of the company explains, Alexandre Dreyfus, the ‘fan token’ is launched through a ‘fan token offering’ in which a certain number of these assets are put up for sale (between 200,000 and a million, depending on the size and social mass of the club) at a fixed price , around two euros, for a limited period of time. Once the initial batch is exhausted, the ‘fan token’ is put up for sale again but already at a price set by supply and demand. Although a single ‘fan token’ is enough to participate in all the votes, The more tokens a fan owns “the greater their influence will be because their vote will be multiplied by the number of tokens you have.” Of course, to prevent some users from accumulating too much power, the clubs establish limits both on the number of ‘tokens’ that can be acquired and the number of tokens that can be used in a vote.
Bitpanda Spain’s expert in digital assets, Moisés Santos, stresses that one of the main benefits of these instruments “is the greater interaction that is achieved between club and fan.” But can they also be an investment opportunity? The managing partner of Blockchain Intelligence, Almudena de la Mata, alerts consumers that before buying, the nature of each ‘token’ must be taken into account to know if they are investment assets or if they only give certain participation benefits. And it is that, in his opinion, “the clubs on the one hand are trying to stimulate their fans in a more modern way but obviously they are trying to improve their income and generate value.” In Spain, the regulation does not consider ‘fan tokens’ to be financial products, but rather simple instruments that provide a service, and therefore they are not under the regulation of the CNMV.
Victor Garcia, Professor of Multimedia Informatics and Telecommunications Studies and an expert in Blockchain at the Open University of Catalonia, he is clear that ‘fan tokens’ can be an object of desire for people who are not at all fans of the club that issues them and who simply dedicate themselves to analyzing the sports market to achieve profitability. The price of the ‘fan tokens’ is very sensitive to any news related to the clubs: defeats, rumors, frustrated signings … they can alter their price. García believes that the ‘fan token’ are taking advantage of the speculative success of cryptocurrencies without yet putting “something very interesting in return.” Its success will depend, he points out, on the promotions that the team gives to the fork. “If a club gives few rewards or surveys, the interest in having that fan token will be less”, aim.
However, the coordinator of the Chair of Financial Markets Law at CEU San Pablo University, Rafael del Castillo Ionov, predicts that more and more clubs will adopt these instruments to get the benefits they provide. Likewise, it is foreseeable that this model will jump from the clubs to other sports entities, “as well as to the world of music and even to companies that work with brands that establish a strong emotional bond with their clients.”