Liverpool are the latest football club to tap into the NFT craze, and their release of more than 170,000 ‘fan tokens’ could generate as much as £8.5 million for their coffers.
The Reds have announced details of their LFC Heroes Club, a digital artwork range that features collectibles of players like Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Virgil van Dijk as well as their manager, Jurgen Klopp.
Liverpool are running a three-day sale on the items from March 30 to April 1, with fans able to pick up art from two distinct collections – the ‘Legendary’ package features 24 one-of-a-kind NFTs, while the ‘Hero Edition’ combines multiple pieces of artwork in one.
The auction will be run on an ‘energy efficient’ blockchain called Polygon, while world-famous auction house Sotheby’s are also involved in overseeing the project.
So what exactly are NFTs and how do they work? ?
This video answers all your questions ?
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) March 24, 2022
The Legendary packs will be up for auction, and they could fetch tens of thousands per piece for the most popular players. The Hero Edition art will retail at a flat rate of $75 – around £56 – with supporters getting a pack that is selected at random….much like when you used to open a packet of Premier League stickers as a kid and pray that the Arsenal ‘shiny’ was inside.
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“The club would like to make it clear to supporters that its NFTs are digital collectible works of art, and should not be considered investments,” a disclaimer on the club’s website reads.
And even Drew Crisp, the senior vice president at Liverpool, admitted this was a very niche product launch.
“We know that not all fans will be ready to explore the world of NFTs. However, we have conducted some in-depth fan research before entering into this market., and found that almost a quarter of 18–34-year-olds would be likely or very likely to participate in official NFT offerings from the club.
“This is a great chance to offer fans something truly special, and at the same time give back to our LFC Foundation in the local community and beyond.”
The good news is that it won’t just be Liverpool FC that are benefiting from the cash grab. They will be donating 50% of the proceeds – and 10% of all future royalties – to the club’s charitable foundation.
But there is a growing concern about the influence of non-fungible tokens and cryptocurrency exchanges – two non-regulated forms of investment – on football and sport in general.
There are those who claim that collectibles and digital art are a fair enough way to monetise a fanbase, while clubs like PSG have used the revenue generated from fan tokens to finance the signing of players, with Lionel Messi’s switch to Paris one of the most high-profile ‘crypto transfers’ yet.
But with fraud associated with crypto and NFTs on the rise – if you type NFT into Google one of the most common accompanying phrases is ‘money laundering’ – you do wonder if this tale will have a happy ending or not.
Should global sports brands really be ‘encouraging’ their fans to buy into an unregulated market?