Manchester United is a club synonymous with branding, marketing deals and commercial interests that sometimes come at the team’s expense.
Over the years since the Glazers took the reins at Old Trafford, United fans have lamented the club’s over-emphasis on revenue generation, which relegates footballing affairs to a secondary position.
United fans will therefore be forgiven for being enraged at the club’s latest partnership that, on solid evidence, is almost certainly doomed even before it takes root.
The Red Devils have become the latest Premier League team to release a range of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Most people associate NFTs to revolve around scammers and plummeting value. This is made worse because cryptocurrency and companies that trade in it, such as FTX, are rapidly tanking and collapsing.
Tezos will operate United’s NFT scheme, an organisation that features on the team’s training kit in a deal worth around £20m annually.
The Athletic reports on United’s involvement in cryptocurrency and NFTs, “Manchester United believe this external noise is not relevant to their scheme, which they believe can provide genuinely useful and engaging things to their fans around the world.”
“NFTs in sport are associated with transactions in which fans buy what they think could be a lucrative financial investment, which then rapidly plunges in value, effectively working as a cash transfer from poor to rich.”
“There is no particular evidence sports fans are genuinely interested in NFTs as supposed “collectables” rather than mere vehicles for financial speculation, and few schemes seem to have stood the test of time.”
United have tried to justify its involvement in what from the outside appears to be a doomed venture by saying it will enable supporters from across the world to own digital memorabilia. The club’s charity foundation will also donate a large portion of the proceeds.
Similar schemes have failed in the Premier League. John Terry’s Ape Kids Football Club lost almost all its value despite being popularised by the Chelsea legend on social media.
A report that came out earlier in the year indicated that 19/20 clubs in England’s top flight that engaged in promoting cryptocurrency products saw their value tank.
This includes the Tezos token, which lost around 70% of its value since featuring on United’s training kit.
It sounds ominous that United have entered such a partnership despite a mountain of warnings that urge exercising caution.