Partner contentCryptocurrency

It used to be that if a football player wanted to find something to do with the money they’d made from playing the game, they’d buy a pub.

That has certainly changed over the years, and not just because an era of greater professionalism has cut back the drinking culture in sport.  

Today’s footballers and other sports stars have a battalion of advisers looking out for them and preparing them for their next steps, and this includes a significant amount of investment advice.

While buying property is still a hot ticket, and plenty of former sports stars have made more from bricks and mortar than they ever did on the pitch, another investment stream is attracting both players and clubs in 2022 – cryptocurrency. 

Swapping boots for Bitcoin 

Casual followers of the crypto and/or sporting worlds will have noticed that there is a definite increase in the number of crypto-related companies taking an interest in sponsorship opportunities. Some of the brands adorning the front of stars’ shirts, and even cars in motor racing events, will be familiar to browsers of, as crypto betting sites are increasingly keen to get their names into the living rooms of sports fans worldwide. A single sporting event can be watched by tens of millions of people – as many as a billion, if we’re talking Super Bowl here – and so any exposure a crypto company can get in that area is hugely valuable. 

Not just a token gesture 

Of course, there isn’t necessarily the same sense of loyalty from a fan to a club’s sponsor as there is to the club itself. As often as not, as long as the sponsor is putting money into the club, fans are just as happy not knowing what a sponsor even does. However, the link between sport and crypto is not something that ends at the sponsorship level. If you can name a top European football club, you’re probably also naming a club that has issued, or is set to issue its own crypto tokens. Among the recent names to announce their relationship with the crypto world in this way are Barcelona, Manchester City, Paris St Germain and Juventus. 

While this could easily pass fans by, supporters who buy club-issued tokens get more than just a bit of memorabilia that gets stored away. In some cases, fans who invest will be given the opportunity to vote on decisions taken regarding the club’s future. Tokens can also entitle the fans to preferential ticketing when it comes to particularly big games, and gain them specific access in areas where other fans can’t go. Access such as this resonates with diehard fans in a way sponsorship can’t.  

NFTs and football – a growing relationship 

Former Chelsea captain John Terry has been keeping his footballing powder dry ever since his coaching role with Aston Villa ended in July 2021. He is expected to go into management at some stage, but he’s not been quiet during his time outside of footballing employment. The defender started a Twitter account after having stayed away from social media for some time, and his arrival on the platform was swiftly followed by the ex-England international sharing his first NFT with his followers. The tokens owned by Terry are recognisable for the motif of an ape wearing the royal blue shirt of Chelsea; he’s since welcomed former Blues teammates to the crypto world. 

Currently active footballers have not been staying out of the NFT space, either. Liverpool and Scotland left-back Andy Robertson has gone public with his purchase of a series of tokens, and issued his own tokens with the proceeds going to charity. Robertson’s investment was followed by the club itself joining in: Liverpool FC fired off a series of tweets earlier in the year announcing to fans that they would have a chance to invest in club-issued NFTs – although the uptake on these was ultimately small – and it is widely speculated that the club’s next sponsor could be a crypto firm.

While they wouldn’t be the first major sports team to take on crypto sponsorship, they could become one of the most prominent given their worldwide support base.