Manchester City Football Club has partnered with Socios.com to launch $CITY fan tokens. Fans can use the tokens to collect rewards, access promotions, play mobile games and vote on the club’s polls. Other clubs that have signed deals with Socios include FC Barcelona, Juventus, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain. But this is the first UK premier league club.
Partnerships between soccer clubs and blockchain-based solutions have become increasingly popular during the Covid-19 pandemic. With gates closed and seasons postponed for part of the year, clubs had to find new revenue sources and innovative strategies to keep fans engaged.
The partnership with City will reward all registered fans with one free $CITY Token. The digital solution also addresses geographical challenges and promotes the global expansion of the team’s fan base.
“We recognise the significant interest in blockchain and the opportunity it provides us to engage further our global fanbase and we are confident that the Manchester City Fan Token will prove a popular addition to our digital line-up,” said Stephan Cieplik SVP of Global Partnerships at City Football Group.
In addition to the deal with Socios.com, last December, Manchester City signed a partnership with Animoca for blockchain mini-games collectibles.
Ledger Insights asked the club about the potential crossover between the two contracts. “The key differences are that Socios is a fungible tradable token, whereas Animoca is a nonfungible collectable,” said Toby Craig, City Football Group Director of Corporate and Commercial Communications. “We are also going to be developing games with Animoca, so that has a slightly different scope.”
It’s the nonfungible tokens (NFT) and collectibles where fans get some content ownership rights that have captured the public’s imagination this year. Dapper Lab’s NBA Top Shot has led the pack, transacting $290 million in NFT sales and re-sales in the last 30 days. In the soccer world, Sorare is the leading sports collectible platform promoting fantasy football games, with 126 football clubs signed up. Its sales in the last 30 days were $17 million.
Top clubs such as Juventus, PSG, Atlético de Madrid, and AC Milan have partnerships with both Sorare and Socios.com. In addition, Socios.com also has partnerships in the gaming and sports fighting industry.
Socios.com is also booming, perhaps in part because of the Manchester City deal. Chiliz, the company that runs Socios, has its own digital currency, which is among the top 35 cryptocurrencies with a market cap of $3.3 billion. However, at the start of March before the City deal, the figure was less than one tenth of that. At around the same time, Chiliz announced plans to target U.S. sports leagues. The total fan token market cap for Socios teams exceeds $400M.
Beyond the fungible versus nonfungible token differences, the various platforms have very different tones. While there’s no question that many people who buy NFTs are interested in their value appreciating, the NFT collectibles companies are very sports and entertainment oriented.
In contrast, Socios.com and its fan tokens have far more of an investment bent. Chiliz runs a token exchange and talks about club Initial Fan Token Offerings which appear similar to ICOs. Backing this up, its site includes a disclaimer stating, “Digital Asset Trading can be a challenging and potentially profitable opportunity for investors.”
When Ledger Insights did a deep dive into the business side of NBA Top Shot, we asked the questions: Will games like this encourage far more to focus on the financial aspect of collecting? Could it promote gambling behavior? That was for NFTs, which provide some level of ownership and are collectibles. If you extend that question to fan tokens, the answer is more likely to be yes.