Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Shonan Bellmare (along with all other J-League soccer clubs) had its gates closed for large crowds for most of the 2020 season and will likely keep them closed during the coming games. As a result, the club had to find other sources of revenue to compensate for the lack of ticket selling.
FiNANCiE’s platform enables the club’s supporters to purchase tokens in exchange for the ability to participate in polls, apply for certain events with the club and acquire limited goods. The revenues from the token sale will be used to cover the club’s regular expenses and fund a “Special Day” project expected to occur at the beginning of the Spring. The project aims to increase fan engagement.
The issuance of tokens on blockchain platforms is becoming a common practice among European soccer clubs. Start-ups such as Socios.com offer sports organizations interactive platforms where supporters can purchase tokens and engage. In Japan, however, Shonan Bellmare is the first club to adopt the practice.
One differential aspect between this initiative and other similar projects such as the recent partnership between AC Milan and Chiliz is that FiNANCiE is a crowdfunding platform, which emphasizes more explicitly that the main purpose of the initiative is to raise revenue. Other clubs advertise for the increase in fan engagement and improved fan experience as a reason for token issuance, but the J-League soccer club seems to be putting more stress on motivating supporters to contribute to the organization’s projects financially. Furthermore, while Socios.com and its main competitors are exclusive for sports, FiNANCiE enables the issuance of tokens for project funding in other industries such as music and the arts.
Meanwhile, the J-League is part of Sorare’s network. The blockchain collectibles start-up aims to have the top 20 soccer leagues on its blockchain and the Japanese league and one of the firsts to have all of its club members on the platform.