More and more major soccer clubs have launched digital tokens to excite fans some of whom are not convinced.

The balance sheet of the major football clubs was also hit hard by the outbreak of the pandemic. Revenue of the top 20 clubs in Europe fell 12% last year to 8.2 billion euros (9.9 billion US dollars). Since fans could not attend the games, many were played in empty stadiums.

To make up for this lost revenue and renew commitment to fans, many of these clubs have switched to issuing fan tokens. These fan tokens give the team’s supporters benefits such as exclusive goods or access to certain surveys.

Some of the sport’s most popular clubs have chosen to issue fan tokens. For example the English Premier League champions Manchester City, the Italian AC Milan and the Spanish FC Barcelona. National teams are also on board, such as the Spanish national team and the French national team.

Creation of fan tokens

In order to issue these fan tokens, teams typically work with crypto technology companies who do the actual issuance. They will then receive a share of the proceeds from their initial sale. Though prices vary, several higher profile clubs have initially launched their tokens for around $ 2 each.

Several established European clubs have teamed up with Chiliz, who also runs the sports crypto platform Socios.com. According to Chiliz managing director Alexandre Dreyfus, the company pays a fee to the club and shares the proceeds from the first sale of tokens. The company is targeting sales of $ 200 million this year.

She wants to share about half of this with her partner clubs. Chiliz has launched fan tokens with 20 soccer teams and another 8 with teams from other sports, with plans to expand into the United States.

Fans on the fence

Although the tokens have proven popular with some, others interpret the move a little more cynically. For example, Katia Gigliotti, a fan of Italy’s AS Roma, said she was initially hesitant about paying the tokens. However, she has come to appreciate being able to interact with the team and other fans during the lockdown.

The story goes on

On the other hand, some resent having to pay even more for this type of engagement. Sue Watson, chair of the West Ham United Independent Supporters’ Association, said this, in addition to buying season tickets and football shirts, adds to the existing cost of tracking a team. Malcolm Clarke, chairman of the Football Supporters’ Association, meanwhile, had a slightly more blunted perspective.

According to him, clubs are either trying to make money by giving their fans more say in club decisions, or “they’re trying to squeeze extra money out of fans by creating petty online” engagement “surveys,” he said. “Not looking good either.”

Ultimately, some fans like the tokens simply for the reason that they feel more involved. “It’s nice that the song you voted for is the one you hear and you think, ‘I took part in it,'” said Juventus fan Giuseppe Bognani.