Premier League football's love affair with crypto on the up

All bar one of the Premier League clubs last year had a sponsorship deal, according to research, and some believe crypto firms will replace betting firms and become a mainstay on the front of players' football tops.

a few silver coins


Premier League football’s love affair with crypto is on the up, despite crypto’s plummeting value and concerns from campaigning groups over clubs’ crypto tie-ups.

Recent research by The Athletic, the sports news website, found that nearly all of last year’s Premier League’s 20 clubs have at least one crypto sponsor at some level.

Premier League champions Man City is expected to net more than $20m a season after recently expanding its existing partnership with crypto exchange OKX to become the club’s official training kit partner for the 2022-23 season. The deal will also see select Manchester City players star in crypto education content produced by OKX.

Chelsea, meanwhile, has inked a whopping £20m-a-year deal with crypto outfit WhaleFin to be the club’s shirt sleeve sponsor while blockchain- fan token platform Socios has deals with six Premier League clubs.

In fact, crypto could soon become even more ubiquitous in the Premier League, with some suggesting that crypto outfits could replace betting sponsors, which could soon to be banned, as a mainstay on players’ shirts.

For crypto firms, Premier League sponsorship is a cheap way to find new customers while Premier League clubs are looking to boost their bottom lines by inking more and more sponsorship deals.

And it's not just Premier League clubs which are marrying up with crypto, but individual footballers are also endorsing NFTs while former Arsenal footballer Kieran Gibbs got half his salary at Inter Miami paid in bitcoin.

Tim Mangnall, CEO, Capital Sports Media, a sports agency that owns and manages rights all over the world, told AltFi “crypto is not going anywhere” and that “crypto and sports are a match made in heaven”.

Mangnall said: “The Premier League is one of the biggest sporting organisations around the world and is one of the most sought after sports rights around the world.

“The fundamental views of [those involved in] bitcoin is that it is for mass adoption, that it’s not controlled by one singular government, one singular person, it is the money for the people.

“So you can understand that if you are really trying to get in on the mass market then football is a natural media outlet.

“I think there will be more regulation that will come into play that will be a good thing,” he added.

Mangnall believes that amid growing adoption (and crypto education) crypto firms will in the near future be plastered across Premier League shirts, replacing gambling firms.

“I think we are going to see it. There are crypto sponsorships on the front of shirts in teams around the world,” he says.

There has been some fan backlash to some of the crypto tie-ups with Premier League clubs.

For example, West Ham supporters objected to a proposed tie up with Socios, which sells digital, tradable club-specific tokens that permit the holders to vote on minor club matters.

But Mangnall believes the fan backlash is generally limited to smaller crypto outfits.

He said: “I think where you see a lot more backlash is where the companies are very, very small, very unregulated, nobody really knows who the owners are, they are talking about offering 30, 40, 50 per cent returns on your investment. 

“That is where there becomes backlash.”

He says Premier League clubs have a responsibility to educate fans about the burgeoning industry.

Simon Dent, founder of sports talent agency Hero, is in agreement and said “club partnerships with crypto are here to stay”.

He pointed out that Premier League clubs undertake a lot of “due diligence” before penning sponsorship deals.

“I know that a lot of clubs are starting to create NFTs," he told AltFi.

But he said that amid the current downturn in the crypto market, it is unlikely that crypto firms will have tens of millions a year to spend on a Premier League club stadium naming rights deal.

Dent added that some of the concerns around an embryonic industry like crypto come from a lack of education.