At a time when the number of betting sponsorships in top-flight football has been criticised, the Premier League has attracted fury after opening talks with an unregulated crypto gambling firm.
Although Sorare market themselves as a ‘digital collectibles’ firm, the tokens upon which their platform is built can rise or fall in value – however, crypto and NFT brands of this nature continue to evade the regulatory control of the UK Gambling Commission.
Sorare has grown rapidly in popularity in Europe and across the world, thanks to partnerships with ambassadors including Kylian Mbappe, Gerard Pique, the NBA and the MLB. They offer what is effectively a card-based trading game, however the cost of purchasing the collectibles – and their stored value – can increase or decrease due to uncontrollable market conditions.
But the Premier League, who earlier this year called upon their clubs to voluntarily end their partnerships with regulated betting firms, don’t seem to mind – it has been reported that their negotiations with Sorare have reached an advanced stage.
Any agreement would replace a previous deal reportedly in place with ConsenSys, a blockchain firm, which has apparently fallen through after the value of NFTs tumbled earlier in 2022.
Sky News has reported that although ConsenSys have tried to renegotiate at a lower price, Premier League chiefs believe the terms offered by Sorare – the Paris start-up worth more than £3.5 billion – are more ‘lucrative’.
If green lit, Sorare would be allowed to launch their fantasy trading game in the UK using licensed Premier League clubs and players – despite the fact that the company is still being investigated by the Gambling Commission.
The Art of Negotiation
Some call them unique opportunities to own a one-off work of art, others call them a quick cash-grab for those with sizable investment budgets and canny marketing techniques.
Either way, NFTs appear to be here to stay – despite the market crashing during the summer.
It’s that volatility that has led many to question whether the Premier League is acting responsibly or not in promoting such a product to fans of all ages as part of any possible deal with Sorare.
The French firm is still the target of an ongoing investigation by the UK Gambling Commission, who as long as a year ago recommended that buyers act with caution before investing in Sorare’s products.
The results of the regulator’s enquiries are not yet known, however a statement from the Commission reads:
“Sorare.com is not licensed by the Gambling Commission. This means that any activity completed on the site by consumers in Great Britain is outside of the gambling regulations that a licensed operator should comply with.
“Consumers are being advised to consider this information when deciding whether or not to interact with the site.”
Sorare have long defended their position, and claim that their range of collectibles should not fall under the remit of a betting product.
“Sorare remains very confident it does not offer any forms of gambling,” a spokesperson for the brand said.
“This has been confirmed by expert legal opinions at every stage since the company was founded, including when signing new partnerships.”