Like Messi at PSG, football changes to cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrency, another currency in the soccer machine? Like Lionel Messi, part of whose remuneration to PSG is paid in digital chips, European clubs are investing in this new market, a source of additional income and a way to engage the fans. The Argentine superstar received part of his first salary as “fan tokens” of Paris SG, only in this first month, for a value close to one million euros, according to a bank source and another source close to the club.

This one-time payment is the result of a partnership with the company that, since 2020, has allowed fans to buy these tokens with chiliz, a lesser-known cryptocurrency than bitcoin or ethereum. Thanks to these “fan tokens”, the fans can participate in the life of the club without having to go to the stadium, voting to choose the design of the curtain between the hallway of the dressing room and the field, or the phrase inscribed on the bracelet. From the captain for example.

The company has taken another dimension since it began its association with PSG in 2018: it has signed contracts with 56 clubs and close to a hundred teams in various sports, according to its president Alexandre Dreyfus, who expects that Messi’s contract “will launch a transient trend”. “” We hope that in two years, during the transfer window, a player will say: + Yes, I will join this team but it would be good if they offered me a million dollars in fan chips + “, he explains from his office in Malta .

The president of agrees, his company has benefited from the economic crisis that followed the pandemic, which allowed him to multiply alliances. “Some clubs have suddenly lost 50, 70 or even 80% of their income and they say to themselves: + We have fans all over the world, what could we sell them? + ”, Continues Dreyfus, who has also been a co-founder of the operator. sports betting and poker Winamax.

– New sponsors –

A KPMG study shows that more than forty T-shirt sponsorship contracts have been signed at the top five European championships since the start of the pandemic. And cryptocurrencies have made remarkable progress. According to KPMG, Inter Milan, for example, doubled the revenue tied to its main jersey sponsor by ditching manufacturer Pirelli to display on the torso of its players.

DigitalBits, another player in the blockchain technology sector, took its place on the AS Roma shirt since last July, after signing a three-year contract (12.4 million euros) with the Italian club. The boom in the football cryptocurrency market comes as Spain has banned gambling operators from sponsoring football clubs, which the UK is considering doing. “This void will have to be filled and the + fan cards +, or something that is not defined as a game but that yes, should be the favorites”, analyzes Kieran Maguire, professor of football finance at the University of Liverpool.

– “Speculative products” –

But some are concerned that curious bettors are entering this market without really understanding it, even though the value of cryptocurrencies is highly volatile. Initially sold for two euros, PSG’s digital token reached 42.49 euros on August 9, the day before Messi’s signing. On Wednesday night, its price was 17.82 euros, according to the coinmarketcap site. “Ultimately these are speculative products, temperamental Mr. Maguire. A friend described them to me as gambling with a bit of J”.

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“In fact, clubs are targeting ‘non-traditional’ fans by asking themselves: + can we make money with these new fans?”, Comments Mr. Maguire. “Manchester United, for example, claims 1.1 billion followers and generates around 715 million euros in turnover, which is equivalent to about 60 cents per fan per year”, a figure that suggests a great room for improvement, he believes.

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But these “two different generations” of supporters are not incompatible, according to Dreyfus, for whom “they just don’t see the same thing.” “I often joke that clubs don’t target the guy who has a tattoo and lives a stone’s throw from the stadium. Our market is more geared towards fans online, around the world, who historically consume the sport differently. ”, He concludes.

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