From transfer market deflation to ERTEs, the coronavirus crisis has left several clubs fearing financial ruin and looking for new ways to reinvent themselves, which has led some to look into the phenomenon of cryptocurrency.
Through fan tokens, clubs are now able to involve their supporters from around the world in a novel way and Barcelona are about to take this step, joining other clubs such as Atletico Madrid, PSG, Juventus, Roma and Galatasaray.
“In the long term, it won’t be enough with sponsors, ticketing and merchandising,” explained Alexandre Dreyfus, the CEO of Socios.com, a fan engagement platform based on blockchain technology
“There’s also a fall in the revenue from TV rights, while club members will put pressure on for the ticket prices to be kept at a reasonable level.
“We don’t think that fan tokens will replace other revenue streams, but it’s an extra revenue stream from outside of the traditional model and it’s one that is becoming more and more important in terms of mitigating the impact of losses elsewhere.”
Dreyfus went on to explain exactly what these tokens are.
“They are digital assests that boost fan engagement,” he said.
“Those who own fan tokens have been actively participating in club life through our app.
“For example, they’ve selected which goal music plays when Juventus score at home or the message of the PSG captain’s armband or which player takes charge of Atletico Madrid‘s Instagram account for a day.”
For Dreyfus, there’s a romantic element to this as well as a commercial one.
“The fan tokens are compatible with other ways of belonging to a club, as a token isn’t equivalent to having a share,” he pointed out.
“The shareholders vote at general meetings on legal or technical issues, but they don’t have supporter rights if you can say it like that.
“The tokens, on the other hand, strengthen the relationship between fans and the club.
“The value can change based on various variables, but they’re not an investment mechanism.
“There may be a secondary market, just like with a signed shirt or a ticket, but that’s not the intention.
“The fan tokens can be swapped for money in an easy way, but they’re not money.
“That’s not our vision, that’s not our mission.”
Dreyfus also outlined the plans for adding a fun competitive element to the interaction between supporters.
“In the coming months, our app will include a table and fans will be able to earn various prizes, both physical and digital, based on how they interact,” he said.
“The higher they are in the table, the more prizes they could win.
“Imagine being able to see that you’re the number one Barcelona fan in your country, at the top of the table.
“Plus, there will be games and chats.”
Barcelona are the next club who’ll be launching these fan tokens and they’ll be doing so through Socios.com, going live on June 22.
For the first two days of the launch they’ll cost two euros each and then the cost will be determined by demand and other factors.
Considering that Barcelona have 360 million followers, they’re expected to sell 40 million tokens.
One of the first ways in which the fans will have a say on how things work at the Camp Nou will be in selecting an inspirational message for the home team’s dressing room at the stadium.
“We want the followers to have a say on one of the last things that players see before they go out on to the pitch,” said Dreyfus.
“And that’s only the start, as there will be other votes for fans to have a say.
“They’re getting a sense of closeness and influence that they never had before.”
This kind of project could soon be seen at many more clubs too.
“We’re in talks with more than 50 teams in football and other sports and we’ll be adding more partners in the future,” Dreyfus confirmed.
“Digital fan engagement really needs to be an essential part of long-term strategies.”