The recent news that the Premier League is considering partnerships with an NFT crypto platform is potentially exciting news for Aston Villa.
According to The Times, league bosses recently met with fan representatives to discuss the feasibility of working with a crypto NFT platform.
This would involve issuing official Premier League crypto collectible NFTs and sponsorships such as NFT Megaways on club jerseys.
Villa dipped their toe into the world of crypto back in August when they joined several other clubs in partnering with Socios to launch fan tokens.
These allow holders to vote on the clubs’ minor decisions, enjoy exclusive ticket discounts, souvenirs and other concessions.
However, fan representatives expressed concern about the costs involved in buying and selling fan tokens and the legitimacy of such practices.
In simple terms fan tokens are collectable digital assets designed to create new experiences for fans, allowing them to become part of a vibrant digital community.
While that sounds extremely exciting, many people within football are extremely sceptical about anything linked to crypto and blockchain.
For instance, journalist Nick Harris has spent years investigating the links between the crypto and football industries.
He has recently been extremely critical about Peter McCormack’s crypto-fuelled purchase of non-league club Bedford FC.
When McCormack announced the deal on social media, he stated that his aim was to get Bedford into the Premier League in the next 10 years.
Harris blasted McCormack, describing his comments as ‘crypto-loon scammery’ from ‘clueless brazen rip-off merchants venturing into la-la land.
While Harris’ passionate stance is based on years of investigating the crypto industry, his cynicism may yet prove to be misplaced.
More than 45 sporting organisations launched fan tokens alongside Villa in August including Manchester City, Arsenal, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, AC Milan and Atletico Madrid.
They were joined by the Argentina and Portugal national football teams, along with several leading teams from Formula One, eSports and cricket.
Given the level of expertise within these organisations, it is inconceivable to think that all of them could be fooled into signing up to a scam.
For now, the Premier League rightly remains cautious on potential NFT partnerships and their approach will be different from the clubs.
However, the official link-up with the Fantasy Premier League highlights that league bosses are not averse to signing off on innovative ideas.
Some Premier League clubs have already forged lucrative partnerships with the crypto industry including Watford, Southampton and Brentford.
Elsewhere, Spain’s La Liga partnered with French crypto NFT platform Sorare to issue NFTs for all La Liga players for fans to trade and play in fantasy tournaments. While the usual fantasy football tips don’t cover NFT-based fantasy tournaments, there has been a positive uptake by fans around the NFT-based offering.
In North America, the NBA and NFL have partnered with Dapper Labs to issue licensed NFTs, while crypto exchange FTX became a sponsor of Miami Heat.
Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers have also signed deals with crypto businesses, further demonstrating the growing links between the two industries.
These types of deals highlight that Villa’s relationship with the crypto industry could increase massively over the coming years.
Shirt sponsorship, stadium advertising and stadium naming rights are amongst the ways Villa could seek to cash in on the crypto boom.
For this to happen, the Premier League will need to be satisfied that the lack of a formal regulatory framework for the crypto industry in the UK is not a red flag.
Harris’ reticence regarding crypto should certainly be enough for football clubs to exercise caution when forging links with the industry.
However, if his concerns prove to be unfounded, the future possibilities Premier League clubs and the crypto industry could be endless.