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Last week we saw a heartwarming video go viral across social media as tens of thousands of Real Betis fans threw teddy bears and cuddly toys onto the pitch during half-time as part of a yearly tradition that sees the gifts gathered up and given to disadvantaged children for Christmas.

It's a beautiful example of the collective power of community and why sport means so much to us all. It's also a segue to wishing you all merry christmas and happy holidays! 🎄🎅🏼

TOP STORY

WAGMI United fail to coin new ownership model with Bradford City

Bradford City chairman Stefan Rupp has this week rejected an offer from WAGMI United, a group of crypto investors seeking to take over the League Two club, stating that it is his responsibility to ‘protect and safeguard’ the club’s future. However, what is it exactly that he is saving them from?
 
NFTs have become increasingly entrenched in the sports world, with athletes, teams and leagues all selling digital offerings and collectibles. WAGMI United’s takeover bid aimed to take this a step further and use NFTs to create an entirely new model of sports team ownership.
 
The crypto-fuelled group aimed to create a collection of Bradford City NFTs associated with and branded by the club, featuring players, uniforms, videos, or photos. For many, these could be an investment; for others, a chance to own a unique piece of a club. The revenues generated would then be invested back into the club.
 
The idea is somewhat akin to the Green Bay Packers share offering but reimagined for the digital world, and with greater utility. The Packers recently raised more than $54 million in their latest offering of “shares,” which pay no dividends, aren’t available for resale, and come with no real ownership rights.
 
While the NFTs are also not classified as securities, they would have offered fans a unique collectable with IP rights that could be used to pursue merchandising opportunities - a step beyond most NFTs currently launched in the sports industry, and a giant leap forward from Packers fan ownership model which hasn't adapted since the early 1900s. 
 
Our Take: It would be hard to argue against the takeover group’s premise that the traditional ownership model within English football is broken – go and have a look at this thread from Swiss Ramble if you need more convincing. The foundation of using new technologies to create a fan-centric ownership model that rewards, rather than extracts, from its fans is certainly one worth further exploration.
 
On this occasion the idea has been shot down due to fan scepticism particularly around the lack of football knowledge from within the investor group and also the currently unregulated nature of cryptocurrency more widely.
 
I believe the concept put forward by WAGMI was also too far removed from what traditional fans currently understand. It would be interesting to see how an alternative approach would be received if ownership was tied to utility that fans already understand, such as ticketing, physical merchandise, or exclusive content. 
📚 Further Reading

Crypto Ownership
  • Web 3.0 and the future of Professional Sports - Sportico
  • What is a DAO, and Why is One Trying to Buy an NBA Team? - Boardroom TV
  • Peter McCormack: Transforming Bedford FC into a global Bitcoin brand - CityAM
  • LinksDAO is aiming to crowdfund the purchase of a top 100 golf course - Twitter
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK 

Last week saw the International Home Market Area initiative (IHMA) come to life with the National Football League (NFL).

The ground-breaking, new initiative granted clubs access to international territories for marketing, fan engagement, and commercialization as part of an important, long-term, strategic effort to enable it's clubs to build their global brands while driving NFL fan growth internationally.

"This is an interesting change in strategy from the league compared to its past efforts, instead this time relying specifically on the clubs," explains Dan Gorelov, Co-Founder of The Touchdown, an NFL fan site.  

18 teams (out of 32) have been awarded a designated contract across eight countries (Canada, Mexico, Brazil, UK, Spain, Germany, China, and Australia).

"Much of the NFL's success as a league is rooted in the strong connection that its individual teams have built with their fans. This initiative creates so many more avenues for these teams to meaningfully engage with an international audience."

The clubs will have access to international markets for a period of at least five years, during which they will have the right to pursue activities in that international market that are consistent with what they can do in their domestic market.

This includes in-person and digital marketing, corporate sponsorship sales, fan events and activations, youth football activities, merchandise sales, and joint marketing relationships with other sports and entertainment establishments in the market.

This is also compounded by the agreed upon international game scheduling plan which comes into effect in 2022.

What do you think? Is the IHMA's club-first approach the best way for the NFL to grow internationally? Let me know by replying to this email.

📚 Further Reading

International Marketing
  • A Mexico City basketball team with NBA dreams makes a home in Texas - The New York Times
  • F1 up for 2nd Chinese GP after ‘huge impact’ brought by Zhou Guanyu - Global Times
  • PFL commits to staging MMA events in Africa and Europe in 2022 - The Independent
WEEKLY ROUND UP 
International Expansion Fan Tokens Sports Betting
  • Legal sports betting is surging in the U.S. as Goldman Sachs predict the online market could reach $39bn in annual revenue by 2033 — up from less than $1bn today. 
Private Equity
  • The British Basketball League (BBL) has received a £7m investment from 777 Partners. with the Miami-based investment firm taking a 45% stake in top-tier basketball competition. The deal adds to their sports portfolio which also includes Sevilla, Genoa, and current BBL franchise, London Lions.
Extreme E
PODCAST
In Episode 7 of Sports Pundit Explains… Sponsorship, Andy and Murray are joined by Dylan Holman, Global Sponsorship Manager at eToro, to discuss growing the investment platform to over 24 million users, adopting a multi-club sponsorship approach, and how DS Techeetah landed a deal by thinking outside the box.
 
Apple | Google | Spotify
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Andy 
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