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Report: Premier League set for NFT deal worth as much as UK£434m

Sorare, Candy Digital, Dapper Labs and ConsenSys on shortlist for digital collectibles deal.

18 February 2022 Tom Bassam
The Premier League has shortlisted four blockchain firms for its official NFT licence

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  • Premier League to award four-year licence to produce blockchain products, reportedly including Panini NFTs
  • Deal set to dwarf UK£15m a year NFT partnerships signed by NFL and NBA
  • Gambling Commission inquiry sparks concern over Sorare bid

The Premier League has shortlisted four blockchain firms for its official non-fungible token (NFT) licence, according to the Daily Mail.

The report says that English soccer’s top flight is mulling over bids offering returns of between UK£220 million (US$298 million) and UK£434 million (US$589 million) over four years. The final shortlist is reportedly made up of Sorare, Candy Digital, Dapper Labs and ConsenSys.

The winning bidder for the Premier League’s digital collectibles, which will be presented to clubs before the end of February, will reportedly gain an official licence to produce a range of blockchain-based products – including NFTs based on Panini stickers.

Dapper Labs already has deals in place with the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Football League (NFL), each reportedly worth UK£15 million (US$20.3 million) a year. Candy Digital has an NFT partnership with Major League Baseball (MLB).

According to the Mail, the Premier League’s delay in putting out a tender has allowed the market to grow, drawing bigger guaranteed returns as blockchain companies are drawn by the English soccer clubs’ global fanbases.

However, the presence of Sorare is potentially controversial. The UK’s Gambling Commission industry regulator is making enquiries into the French company in October after it launched a blockchain-based fantasy soccer game without obtaining a UK licence. That probe remains ongoing.

A Gambling Commission statement issued at the time urged fans to avoid using such an unregulated platform.

‘Consumers are being advised to consider this information when deciding whether or not to interact with the site,’ the statement read.

For its part, Sorare has issued a statement saying it welcomes the regulator scrutiny and that it ‘strongly believes’ its users ‘are not gambling in the UK or in any other jurisdiction in which we operate’.

It said: ‘t’s completely natural that regulators would want to scrutinise emerging trends, or new technologies, and act in the interests of consumers. We will always engage and have an open dialogue with authorities who reach out to us to learn more about our game as we believe this is the responsible way to grow our game and community globally.

‘Sorare partners with over 230 clubs and several major European leagues to offer NFTs of players in the form of digital trading cards and provides an accompanying fantasy football game, which is free to play. We exist to create meaningful connections between fans, footballers and clubs through a new type of collectible. After having received extensive legal advice from several leading law firms, we strongly believe that our services or promotions to users are not gambling in the UK or in any other jurisdiction in which we operate.’

The Premier League is aware of the investigation and has reportedly noted that it is a ‘concern’ despite including Sorare on the shortlist.

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