Liverpool Football Club (LFC) may become the first Premier League team to broker a deal with a crypto firm as its main shirt sponsor. The club has had the Standard Chartered Bank as its main shirt sponsor since 2010 and is looking to increase its commercial appeal to compete with other elite clubs. The deal is said to be worth £70m over a period of 2 footballing seasons and may be concluded in 8 weeks.
According to David Ornstein, a sports journalist from The Athletic, the club is in talks about extending its partnership. However, LFC is also ‘talking to firms from various sectors, including electronics, media, tourism, and cryptocurrencies. Currently, the club is reported to be engaged in talks with ‘a crypto exchange and a blockchain platform.’
In the past few footballing seasons, clubs in the English premier league have been penning down deals with crypto firms, but none has been the main shirt sponsor. Currently, crypto start-up firm ‘Socios’ is the most prominent sponsor for premier league clubs. The firm deals in ‘fan engagement tokens’ and is in partnership with six clubs: Manchester City, Everton, Aston Villa, Leeds, Arsenal, and Crystal Palace football clubs.
The start-up has come under fire from fans, with the most recent being Crystal Palace fans who held up banners terming the firm as ‘parasites.’ Fans feel that such start-ups have only come in to make unfair profits rather than improve the fan experience. In rejoinder, ‘Socios’ insist that it launched to better fans’ experience rather than currency speculation.
From the ongoing, LFC’s move is likely to come under fire with fans and industry players opposed to cryptocurrencies. Many have argued that the mining technology which powers top cryptos like bitcoin is a hazard to the environment. It requires a lot of computing power to operate, and the sector is under-regulated. Others have also argued that speculation could easily sway crypto markets, exposing fans to financial risks.
Liverpool has been an active player in the crypto conversation. In 2019, Liverpool penned a deal with Tron (TRX) that didn’t make it to LFC’s shirt as fans had expected but served as a good step in the right direction. Last month, the club also floated a collection of NFTs that received a lot of criticism from the footballing community.
The club has seen a decent run of results and popularity in the last few seasons, which could help advance crypto sponsorships in the league by increasing awareness.