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Socios CEO: Fan tokens are for entertainment, not investment

Alexandre Dreyfus claims most of company’s digital assets will never be traded.

16 February 2022 Steve McCaskill
Socios CEO: Fan tokens are for entertainment, not investment

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  • Socios says it does not promote the secondary market for tokens
  • Alexandre Dreyfus wants clubs to offer more influence
  • Adds that its priority will be marketing and education in near future

Socios chief executive Alexandre Dreyfus has reiterated that its fan tokens are not an investment and that its mission is to deliver value to fans and revenue streams for sports teams rather than create commodities that are to be collected and traded for profit.

The company has secured partnerships with more than 100 sports teams to create fan tokens that offer rewards and the ability to vote on certain aspects of the club, such as the shirt number of a new signing or the music played when a team scores a goal.

The concept has attracted significant criticism from fan groups and sections of the media, who believe tokens are a cynical attempt to further monetise fandom and could result in some supporters losing money if the value of the tokens decreases. This week, for example, Football Supporters Europe said it was ‘appalled’ by Uefa’s decision to agree a three-year partnership with Socios and accused European soccer’s governing body of exposing supporters to ‘crypto-mercenaries’.

Speaking to SportsPro’s StreamTime Podcast, Dreyfus said fan tokens are about giving fans recognition and influence and that although these assets can be traded, it is not their primary function.

The aim is to provide digital assets with a genuine utility, according to Dreyfus, who added that although some of the votes might seem spurious at present, the hope is that the scope will increase over time as teams ‘compete’ to offer more rights in a bid to win over international fans.

“We think it matters for fans to be recognised by the club, [wherever] they are in the world as someone who belongs to a community,” he said. “Secondly, as soon as I am part of a membership programme, it is normal that I have some influence. Of course, this cannot happen on the field, it cannot happen on the business [side], but there are still many other things you can still try to push clubs to give to the fans. Our job is to try to push the clubs to give more to the fans.

“I’m going to be a bit blunt here. But if you want to decide who’s going to play on the field, you have to be the coach and if you want to decide something else, you have to own the team. I think there’s a separation between what fans are and what managers and owners are. I’m not inventing this  – it’s just factual.

“You can be a shareholder of Manchester United today as a listed company but you being a shareholder is not going to give you any rights or anything. So actually fan tokens can give influence to any fan in the world.

“It’s my dream that clubs will compete to give more to the fans against each other. They are already competing on the pitch, on the commercial side. What if they can compete to give more to their fans?

“Most of the teams understand that most of the growth in their revenue in the next five to ten years is going to be digital and it’s not going to be content. People do not buy content. It’s about what value you can give to a fan and we think recognition, benefits, voting, gamification [around those elements], and digital services we’re going to launch – this is valuable.”

Dreyfus reiterated that fan tokens are an entertainment product, not an investment, and that the evidence suggests that even if owners receive more voting rights, this will not dramatically increase the value of the token because most fans value the utility. Naturally there would be some speculators, but he said that early adopters will not be the archetypal fan token owner.

“A fan that wants to vote will never trade and most of them will never trade,” said Dreyfus. “You [might] have fans who bought at €2 and sell when it’s at €10 but…who can blame them?”

The full interview with Alexandre Dreyfus is available on the StreamTime Podcast. You can subscribe to that feed via your preferred podcast platform here.

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