Paris Saint-Germain, the soccer club much loved by inhabitants of France’s chic capital, is looking to the future. Yesterday, it announced it would launch the world’s first Fan Token Offering (FTO), a token sale which will offer supporters the chance to vote on certain decisions relating to the running of the club.
Once purchased, the tokens will give holders the ability to vote in online surveys issued by the club with a voting weight in proportion to their token holdings. According to French business magazine Capital, these will relate to non-essential matters like the design of the team jersey or the location of a friendly match, rather than more high impact areas like team strategy or the signing or trading of players. Token holders will also have access to exclusive perks, like free match tickets and the chance to meet players after a game.
The token launch is scheduled for spring 2019, with a price not yet fixed but speculated to be around one euro per token. The project is being created in partnership with Socios.com, a blockchain platform specializing in tokenization for soccer teams, which has signed a five year, 2 million euro per season contract to become an official branded partner of PSG, according to Le Parisien. Socios.com is built on the Chiliz platform, which advertises itself as giving fans the power to crowd-manage their favorite sports and e-sports teams; both companies undoubtedly stand to gain a lot of exposure from the high-profile deal.
While the introduction of blockchain to sports team management is novel, it’s a logical extension of the complex digital brand-building strategies most major teams employ.
For years, teams in the NBA, NFL, and MLB have been experimenting with apps, websites, and high-tech stadiums in an attempt to maximize fan engagement—and therefore revenue—by all possible means. And issuing voting rights through cryptographic tokens is something of a modern take on the successes of fan-owned teams like Real Madrid, which has been owned by its members (now more than 100,000) since it was founded, and regularly asks them to vote directly on the running of the club.
Though PSG is the first major sports team to use blockchain for voting purposes, some smaller leagues are embracing it in the extreme; in the U.S., the Fan-Controlled Football League will allow fans of its eight teams to vote on everything from offensive plays to mascot selection to what constitutes a catch. And cryptocurrency has already made inroads into the world of soccer. In August, online investment platform eToro announced a sponsorship deal with seven Premier League teams that it said it would pay for with bitcoin.