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Report: Inter Milan consider DigitalBits legal action over missed sponsorship payments

Italian soccer club not ruling out ending €85m deal with blockchain network.

8 August 2022 Ed Dixon

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  • Inter could remove DigitalBits branding from front of shirt if payments don’t arrive
  • Company took over from Socios as club’s main partner this season

Inter Milan could begin legal proceedings against its main sponsor DigitalBits after the blockchain network missed a set of payments to the Italian soccer giants, according to Corriere della Sera.

Inter initially announced a multi-year, €85 million (US$86.6 million) partnership with Zytara Labs in September 2021 for DigitalBits to become the club’s sleeve sponsor, before upgrading it to their front-of-shirt sponsor to replace blockchain firm Socios.

But with DigitalBits having reportedly failed to pay an installment of its long-term agreement with the Serie A outfit, Inter are considering removing the company’s branding from its jerseys for the remainder of their preseason fixtures. DigitalBits’ logo has appeared on Inter’s shirts for their last two friendlies on 30th July and 6th August.

According to reports, Inter are also prepared to remove DigitalBits branding from their women’s and youth team shirts, with the men’s senior side to follow should the firm refuse to pay up.

While both sides are said to be working to resolve the matter, a legal dispute has not been ruled out given the value of the deal. A change of sponsor would be a last resort but is also not off the table.

SportsPro says…

DigitalBits joins a growing list of firms feeling the effects of the volatile crypto market which, having peaked at US$3 trillion last November, has fallen to around US$1 trillion.

While the company could still come up with the cash for Inter, the situation hardly inspires confidence and comes after a spending slump from crypto brands following a bumper year of sport partnerships in 2021.

Questions over crypto’s long-term viability as a commercial sponsor will remain. The potential loss of revenue will also have Inter sweating, given their financial situation. The club’s last two public accounts covering the 2020/21 and 2019/20 financial years show combined losses of €348 million (US$355 million).

In response, Inter launched a €415 million (US$423 million) bond issue this January to help pay off their debts, having taken out a loan worth a reported €275 million (US$280 million) from Oaktree Capital Management in May 2021.

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