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Manchester United launch official NFT digital collectibles with Tezos

Premier League side want to create global community that unites fanbase with new experiences.

15 November 2022 Steve McCaskill
Premier League side want to create global community that unites fanbase with new experiences.

Manchester United

  • NFT collection is based on Tezos blockchain
  • First drop will be given away with more available to purchase in the future
  • Global community will be invited to influence future drops

English soccer giants Manchester United have launched their first ever official non-fungible token (NFT) collection, with the first drop of digital collectibles being given away to fans for free.

The Premier League outfit says it wants to create a Web 3.0 community that will ‘educate, reward, and unite’ their global fanbase through digital and real-world experiences.

The club describes NFTs as a new form of digital memorabilia and an opportunity for supporters to ‘own’ a part of the club’s history, while receiving rewards tied to ownership of their token. 

The digital collectibles are based on official training kit partner Tezos’ blockchain platform, with future collections inspired by the club’s history made available for purchase later this season. The club promises that 20 per cent of all proceeds will be donated to the Manchester United Foundation charity.

Supporters who receive a free NFT will be invited to participate in the community on Discord and influence what form future drops will take.

“Much like the football traditions of old, such as collecting match programmes, club badges and sticker books, fans will soon have the additional option to collect this new type of digital memorabilia,” said Phil Lynch, chief executive of digital products and experiences at Manchester United.

“Having watched the Web 3.0 space closely and consulted with fans for their views on how this unique virtual world should operate, we’ve worked with the Tezos ecosystem teams to apply these learnings and believe that the launch of Manchester United digital collectibles is different to others, providing the option of unique and enhanced engagement opportunities to our incredible fans.”

“It is an honour to be part of the club’s first step into Web 3.0 through the creation of digital collectibles which the club and its followers will cherish for years to come,” added Mason Edwards, chief commercial officer at the Tezos Foundation.

“It takes an appreciation of football and the club’s history, but also a blockchain that’s powerful, decentralised, resilient and scalable to do it. That’s Tezos.”

SportsPro says…

It seemed to be only a matter of time before a club with the commercial ambition and global fanbase that Manchester United possess got involved in NFTs. With Phil Lynch having referred to the club as a “fast follower”, its management will have examined the best practices, successes and failures of others within the industry.

This will include great rivals Liverpool, which also stressed the need to appeal to a global fanbase and create new experiences for its digitally-native supporters.

The close involvement of Tezos will undoubtedly have been invaluable in United’s case, while the club has pre-empted many of the criticisms that will invariably come their way by stressing the utility and community of its NFTs. It has also promised a range of educational materials that include tutorials featuring its men’s and women’s team players.

However, it is unlikely that these measures will quieten critics who believe such NFTs are exploitative, speculative items that offer little value to fans or leave them out of pocket – especially at a time when the crypto market is struggling.

Like much of United’s commercial activity, these collectibles are clearly focused on international fans who many never step foot in Old Trafford. Even in harmonious times, these would be a hard sell to season ticket holders in the Stretford End – even less so when they’re wearing green and gold scarfs and calling for ‘Glazers out’.

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