Some of Europe’s top soccer clubs have pocketed 150 million pounds ($204 million) by signing up to an app that allows fans to buy cryptocurrency-like virtual tokens in exchange for involvement in certain club decisions, the Telegraph reported.
The tokens are bought on the socios.com app, which has close to 1 million registered users, according to the newspaper. Supporter groups have raised concerns over users being led into risky investments without adequate information.
“I understand why people challenge us, but that’s precisely why clubs like us, because they see that as an incremental revenue,” socios.com founder Alexandre Dreyfus told the Telegraph.
“It’s not cannibalizing any other revenue they have, and that’s important. It doesn’t touch ticketing, it doesn’t touch merchandising -- it’s an additional revenue for a new type of consumer, which are these digital fans all over the world.”
Socios, which means “partners” in Spanish, is aimed at younger fans who demonstrate their devotion almost entirely online. Tokens typically cost 2 pounds ($3) each, and the more you hold, the more benefits you get. These can range from having a say in stadium song lists to getting a chance to play on a club pitch.
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Star player Lionel Messi was enticed this month to Paris Saint-Germain, in part, by the currency. The club’s tokens surged in the lead-up the transfer but have since fallen. The tokens are traded via a currency also called Chiliz, which uses blockchain technology to facilitate the transactions.
The clubs earn revenue in the form of direct payments from Socios.com. So far it’s signed Arsenal, Leeds United, Barcelona, Juventus and Manchester City, in addition to the French club. Dreyfus told the Telegraph that the clubs had bought into his vision of monetizing fan engagement.
The U.K.’s Football Supporters’ Association told the paper it had received complaints from multiple fan groups about the way the platform was being marketed.
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