Seven UK Premier League football clubs have agreed to be paid in bitcoin as part of a sports sponsorship deal with online trading platform eToro.

In a press release early this morning, eToro will pay for the sponsorship rights with the football clubs in bitcoin, thus requiring the teams to setup bitcoin wallets to receive the funds. The amount of bitcoin to be paid to the clubs for the sponsorship was not disclosed.

The seven clubs involved in the sports sponsorship deal are Brighton & Hove Albion F.C., Cardiff City F.C., Crystal Palace F.C., Leicester City F.C., Newcastle United F.C., Southampton F.C., and Tottenham Hotspur.

eToro was founded in Israel 2006 and is an online investment and trading platform. It provides its users options to invest in 12 of the top crypto assets according to its site and bills itself as a ‘social trading network’ that allows users to follow others’ trading strategies.


How the Football Clubs Could Use the Bitcoin

The managing director of eToro summed up some of the higher level goals that eToro hopes the bitcoin from the sports sponsorship will open up for the football clubs:

Today’s announcement is the first small step on a long road to football fully embracing blockchain technology. Education will be key so that industries can understand the potential and so getting global exposure through these Premier League clubs represents a great opportunity to raise awareness. Blockchain brings transparency, which means it can improve the experience for everyone who loves the ‘beautiful game’.Iqbal V. Gandham, eToro UK Managing Director

An article in UK-based newspaper The Daily Telegraph outlines a couple of potential ways the football clubs could use their new bitcoin:

  1. Replace the use of British pounds for transfer fees that clubs pay each other to transfer players from one club to another
  2. Help to tackle ticket scalpers and counterfeit merchandise

While it’s not immediately clear how Bitcoin could help to tackle scalping and counterfeit merchandise, use of the cryptocurrency in the multi-billion pound transfer market could help clubs save significant banking fees and improve transparency.


Sports Sponsorship Deals Opens Crypto Companies to Broader Audiences

The eToro sports sponsorship deal with the 7 premier league clubs may be the first to pay teams for sponsorship in bitcoin but it isn’t the first time a crypto-related company has attempted to broaden their audience through sports.

In fact, two other UK Premier League football clubs also signed cryptocurrency-related sponsorship deals this year. Arsenal secured a sponsorship to promote the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) of a cryptocurrency called CashBet in January of this year. As well, in July of this year the Wolverhampton Wanderers signed a sponsorship deal with cryptocurrency exchange CoinDeal ahead of their return to the Premier League.

Other strategies have involved crypto companies taking the message directly to sports viewers through advertising. Canadian crypto exchange Coinsquare ran a splashy ad campaign in April of this year featuring TV commercials that aired during both basketball and hockey playoff games.

Many online advertising channels such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter have put strict policies in place around advertising for cryptocurrency-related companies in an effort to fight fraud and scams.

Thus it has been hard for legitimate crypto companies to tell their story to broader audiences. Given the captive audiences which live sports still maintains and the demographics it attracts, one can expect to see more crypto-related deals and advertising in sports.


Other Opportunities for Crypto in Sports

But beyond just using sports to reach a new audience there are other opportunities where crypto can find use cases through sports.

Perhaps the most immediately obvious one is in sports betting. Crypto gambling rings provide users anonymity and certainty in results. During the World Cup, a gambling ring in China was broken up by police who found $1.5 billion in cryptocurrency bets. There are also more public, less nefarious betting platforms such as Augur, where markets have been set up for a number of different sporting related events and predictions.

Sports leagues and players are also looking for opportunities in crypto. In July this year, the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) invested in a company called SportsCastr, a live-streaming platform that allows anyone to commentate on sporting events and includes its own native cryptocurrency, FanChain. The deal could allow for NFL players to provide their own content to fans and be compensated by cryptocurrency through the ability for users to ‘tip’ the broadcaster or pay for premium content.

Baseball is also getting in on the act. In July Major League Baseball (MLB) has partnered with a Lucid Sight to create a modern-day equivalent of baseball cards on the Ethereum blockchain. The MLB Crypto Baseball game will function much like popular app CryptoKitties where users can purchase and trade digital collectibles of their favourite players but in addition will allow for interaction during live baseball games.

In a clear attempt to drive more FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), the MLB Crypto players will sell out and there will be certain players who are very scarce. Pre-sale of the modern-day equivalent of baseball cards has already begun and the interactions with live games starts August 31. So if you just gotta have one of these digital assets go and get em while they’re still on the trading block(chain)!

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