Crawley Town will become the first football club in the UK to be powered by cryptocurrency after agreeing an extraordinary takeover deal.
WAGMI United, a consortium of crypto enthusiasts and investors, have agreed a deal to buy the League Two outfit, with the acquisition solely financed through digital assets.
The group’s co-founders, Preston Johnson and Eben Smith, will replace the current Crawley owner and chairman, Ziya Eren, on the club’s board, and have promised to ‘empower fans to take a personal stake in telling their team’s story and shaping its future.’
And Johnson in particular was bullish about what they – and their community of crypto enthusiasts – could achieve.
“Crawley Town Football Club is a club with more than 125 years of rich history that we revere and respect,” he said.
“However, a conventional approach to ownership hasn’t worked and the club is losing hundreds of thousands of pounds, while its fans suffer through year after year of uninspiring results on the pitch.
“We’re going to shake up the status quo, try out some new ideas, and build a worldwide community of fans new and old that can be excited to cheer on the Red Devils together –stretching from West Sussex to anywhere in the world with an internet connection.”
BREAKING: WAGMI United, a new brand at the intersection of crypto and sports, has acquired Crawley Town FC.
Crawley Town currently competes in League Two, but the club’s new directors say:
“We get promoted to League One in Year Two — or you can fire us.”https://t.co/9CeKfoNUGX
— Joe Pompliano (@JoePompliano) April 7, 2022
And the new ownership duo will be putting their money – or should that be Bitcoin – where their mouths are. They have promised that if Crawley haven’t achieved promotion to League One by the end of their second full season in charge, the club’s supporters will have an opportunity to vote them off the board.
“If we underperform, Crawley Town fans should get to vote on who the next directors of the club are,” Smith confirmed.
A New Era of Football Club Ownership?
While the names of Preston Johnson and Eben Smith may be new to many, their WAGMI United project has some pretty high profile backers – Daryl Morey, the president of the Philadelphia 76ers, TikTok star Bryce Hall and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk are just some of those lending their names, and digital cash, to the outfit.
They had previously tried to purchase Crawley’s League Two rivals Bradford City back in 2021, offering supporters a chance to invest with them via non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The bid was rejected by the Bantams’ board of directors.
It’s believed that football fans will be able to invest in Crawley Town via a release of NFTs, although that’s an approach that is considered controversial by some as just another way to try and monetise supporters.
However, the WAGMI model could hand some decision-making power to investors – particularly in voting Johnson and Smith off of the board.