Soccer tokens have exploded in popularity over the past year — but according to a new report, not all football fans are enamored with the idea.
With top-flight teams including Manchester City and AC Milan launching their own tokens, and Spain’s national team planning to do the same, some supporters have complained these assets make following the sport even more expensive.
Football Supporters’ Association chairman Malcolm Clarke told Reuters that it isn’t a good look for clubs “trying to squeeze extra money out of supporters by making up inconsequential ‘engagement’ online polls.”
And Sue Watson, the chairwoman of the West Ham United Independent Supporters’ Association, was quoted as saying:
“Why should you have to pay to have any sort of say in the club? It mounts up, it’s not cheap.”
The Business Case
It’s worth noting that football clubs have seen their revenues plummet as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Countless matches were canceled, long-awaited tournaments were postponed, and ticket sales dried up as games were played behind closed doors.
Executives at big clubs say that these tokens have been a powerful way of making fans feel involved as the sport was forced to go virtual — helping them to establish a stronger digital presence and appeal to fans who may be based thousands of miles from their chosen team.
In some cases, votes have focused on the music that’s played in a football stadium after a goal is scored. One fan told the news agency:
“It’s nice that the song you voted for is the one you hear, and you think ‘I participated in that.’”
But, as with any form of new technology, it may take a little time for football fans to feel comfortable with fan tokens and NFTs — and for clubs to strike the balance between making the most of a new engagement tool and generating revenue from it.