Footbal club FC Barcelona has entered a strategic partnership with blockchain fan token platform Socios.com (Socios) that will accelerate Barcelona’s Web3 strategies. Socios is investing $100m to acquire a 24.5% stake in Barça Studios. This digital content hub produces Barça’s soccer audio and video content and is also responsible for developing the Club’s NFT and metaverse ventures.
Socios and Barcelona already have an existing partnership through the $BAR fan token’s launch on Socios’ platform. The token includes rewards and interactive features for fans but has fallen in price by 93% since its all-time high. This new strategic collaboration and investment builds on Socios’ history with the Club, signifying a closer relationship between the two parties.
Critically, this is a much-needed capital injection for Barcelona. The Club has racked up over $1.5 billion in debt and could not afford to keep its star player Lionel Messi, with his departure exacerbating its financial condition further. Ironically, Messi is now a global ambassador for Socios.
Barcelona has been wary of crypto in the past, with Barcelona rejecting crypto sponsors and a canceled an NFT deal with Ownix following the arrest of a consultant. However, its financial troubles have led Barcelona to look past its previous crypto experience, and last week it sold its first NFT collection in a Sotheby’s auction.
Socios was keen to push the fact that the football club could use the Chiliz Chain 2.0 layer 1 blockchain. Meanwhile, FC Barcelona’s statement was a terse two-liner.
It is hoped that Barcelona will benefit from Socios’ past experience in using blockchain technology to engage fans across the globe with the Club and thus tap into new revenue streams.
On Socios’ end, it is no stranger to partnerships with sports teams, collaborating with teams in MLS, NFL, NBA, the UFC and UEFA to deliver Web3 experiences and rewards. However, so far, it has not launched fan tokens in the United States over concerns about their resemblance to securities. Socios has been criticized particularly by fan organizations for monetizing fan engagement and the additional financial barriers that tokens create.
Perhaps this is an opportunity for Socios to demonstrate how it can truly enhance the fan experience for Barcelona supporters.