The recent partnership struck between newly promoted Premier League club Brentford FC and cryptocurrency exchange platform CoinJar was heavily indicative of increasing collaboration between the crypto and sporting sectors.
Speaking to InsiderSport, Jason Fielding, a Commercial Consultant in sport & entertainment, who played a key role in brokering the Brentford-CoinJar deal, discussed the exchange’s partnership with The Bees and highlighted why crypto firms are being drawn towards sports, football in particular, and vice versa.
Insider Sport – Jason, could you tell us about the projects you have worked on with different football clubs? How many of these projects have been cryptocurrency partnerships, and have you seen a noticeable increase in these agreements?
Jason Fielding: I’ve been working as a sports & entertainment agent for 20+ years, starting off with live music in the 1990s, before joining Octagon, then setting up my own agency, which in turn became a part of Endeavor and IMG.
In football, I worked on the partnership between Manchester United and Vodafone, as well as Vodafone’s global partnership with Ferrari, and worked on Euro 2004, before moving to Australia.
In Australia, I was involved in the successful bid for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup and worked on a major agreement between Aldi and Football Federation Australia, as well as projects with the Australian Football League (AFL), Tennis Australia and various other sport & music projects.
Crypto has really become mainstream now – it has been around for 13 years, starting with Bitcoin, and over the past year has expanded significantly. Last year was a pivotal moment for the crypto space, and it has now taken that next leap where people who weren’t previously interested are now looking at what it could mean for them.
Companies offering crypto services, such as CoinJar, are looking at positioning their brands to the widest possible audience. Football is a fantastic platform to reach people through their passions, particularly in England, where there is no bigger passion than football.
The first deal I worked on with CoinJar was the partnership with the Melbourne Demons in the AFL, which at the time was the first crypto and sports partnership in Australia. We’re very pleased how that turned out as last week Melbourne won the Minor Premiership in the AFL and are now one of the favourites to win the Grand Final in September. Let’s hope we can have the same effect on Brentford!
Fan Tokenisation is also something that I’m very excited about – Tokenisation is where you can tokenise a community or fan base using crypto tokens and create a dynamic relationship between the club and its fans. Over the past few months, you’ve seen many of the big clubs, Manchester City, Barcelona, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, embrace tokenisation and experiment with what works and how this can enhance the fan experience. The highlight of this so far was the announcement that Messi will be part-paid in PSG’s Fan Token when he signed.
IS – As The Bees begin their first season in the Premier League, how have the value of sponsorships grown?
JF: There has been a transition over the past few years from “sponsorship” to “partnership”. Sponsorships were initially a value transaction, a relatively simplistic way of just exchanging brand exposure in return for a financial investment.
Particularly during COVID, the shift in emphasis has been on partnerships – how can we work together to benefit each other. Last year was tough for everybody, and football clubs had to contend with playing with no fans at the grounds, and had to navigate that period by finding new revenue streams and keeping fans engaged.
Companies and partners have worked together to figure things out – last year I was party to a number of partnerships over here where the contract was put aside and the focus was on what the partners could do together. There was a sense of camaraderie about it, and I think that will be a positive legacy of the last year that is set to continue.
IS – What marketing activations or promotions can we expect throughout the course of this partnership?
JF – There will be some activity rolled out throughout the course of the season. There are some plans being put together now, and there will be opportunities throughout the campaign. I always advise my clients to be flexible and react to any possible opportunities which may present themselves. A partnership starts with putting the deal together, and after that it is how you leverage it throughout the season that really drives success.
IS – What role can cryptocurrency and blockchain play in boosting club’s revenues?
JF – It’s a new category that clubs can explore and a new space that many people do not quite yet understand. It’s also a new opportunity to create great partnerships, and we’re seeing the proactive clubs capitalise on that and put those partnerships together. It’s also a category that’s doing well, because of that growth in the crypto-space there is a lot of positive momentum.
IS – Can blockchain enable football clubs – or sports teams in general – to strengthen their engagement with their followers?
JF – Absolutely. The first thing they can do is internally understand the whole space. I’ve found that many clubs around the world have a varying degree of understanding of what crypto is all about and what it can mean for them as an organisation and for their fans.
We’re starting this journey with Fan Tokenisation, which is only just starting, so we should follow that and see how it plays out. My instinct is that in the long-term. tokenisation will be an important part of any community to enhance the relationship with fans.
Other opportunities that are also being thought about are how clubs and sports IP will be represented in the Metaverse and how blockchain solutions can benefit the in-stadium experience, tokenised IP rights and micro-licensing systems.
IS – Have you seen any correlation between the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing interest in blockchain among sports teams?
JF – There was a set of circumstances last year that meant the space was looked at with more interest. There was a need for clubs to develop new revenue streams, the crypto space was growing and gaining mainstream attention and fans as individuals were also interested in crypto in general. This has led to a real surge in crypto partnerships in sport and I think music will be next where we’ll see really interesting projects between artists and their fans.
Do you have any concluding remarks you would like to finish on, perhaps about the Brentford partnership?
JF – It’s been a really exciting opportunity to link CoinJar with Brentford. The spirit they have internally, the fact it’s their first Premier League season and the buzz their fans have makes this a really exciting time. They also leverage data as well if not better than any other football club, which really fits with CoinJar’s business.
And their first game of the season was phenomenal, and that is what sport is all about – we partner with clubs because of that passion. It was really Brentford’s spirit that attracted us to them and we’re very excited to be a part of that journey with them.