- Premier League clubs had given approval to deal
- NFT crash means firm cannot commit to same sums
The Premier League’s plans to launch non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have reportedly been derailed by the crash in the cryptocurrency market, threatening a potential new revenue stream worth more than UK£400 million (US$427 million).
English soccer’s top-flight has been considering its NFT options for some time with reports earlier this year that four firms – Candy Digital, ConsenSys, Dapper Labs and Sorare – were in the running for the initial partnerships.
In March, it was claimed clubs had approved a proposed deal with ConsenSys that would allow the firm to mint NFTs based on still images, creating a new market for digital trading cards. Confirmation was expected in the summer but never arrived.
Now, The Times says ConsenSys can no longer commit to the same sums that were touted when discussions first started last year. SportsPro understands that although a deal is not yet dead in the water, any tie-up would be less lucrative for the league and its clubs.
The status of potential partnerships for other NFT categories, such as video and fantasy sports, is unclear.
The Premier League is one of sport’s great innovators. Its decision to break away from the Football League and embrace pay-TV has created a soccer behemoth, generating billions in revenue and attracting a global audience.
However, it has been more than content to take a back seat when it comes to digital. While the Bundesliga, LaLiga and Serie A have created direct-to-consumer (DTC) platforms and signed NFT deals, England’s top tier has been weighing up its options.
The Premier League’s lucrative broadcast deals mean it does not need to take risks and can afford to wait and see what the best model is for an embryonic crypto market. It also wants to avoid any criticism by ensuring NFTs offer genuine fan utility rather than being viewed as exploitative.
At face value, the decision to ‘wait and see’ might have cost it some revenue but perhaps its prudence will be rewarded in the long run. A deal with ConsenSys might yet be reached but there will be plenty of opportunities for the Premier League to embrace NFTs on its own terms.