The Premier League is pressing ahead with plans to launch an NFT collection despite the recent market crash, i can reveal.
Monthly sales of NFTs – which stands for non-fungible token and is a unique digital artwork that can be traded online – are set to fall below £830m for the first time in a year as they mirror the cryptocurrency crash.
Nonetheless, Premier League insiders say they are exploring lower-value NFTs – in both still and video format – that are not intended to be traded for profit. They want to build a digital community and create interaction between the NFT and its owner.
Critics of football’s swift foray into NFTs – with many clubs and player endorsing different often unregulated products – point out that tokens and digital assets sold by clubs have plummeted in value. But many working within the industry insist the tokens should be treated more like collectibles that exist in the digital world than assets that can be traded for profit.
Players of video game Fortnite, for example, are happy to spend money on characters that offer purely cosmetic value that can only be used to play the game.
The Premier League has already filed two NFT trademarks with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. One relates to the league’s name and logo and another is based around a trophy. The filings cover virtual clothing and other digital assets and the use of the trademarks in virtual and augmented reality. A Premier League source insisted it was done to protect the organisation’s intellectual property rights as opposed to being indicative of future plans.
Any official Premier League NFT collection would have to be agreed upon by the 20 Premier League clubs in a vote. An insider with knowledge of the situation said that if finalised a collection is likely to be announced later in the year.
It has the potential to generate huge profits for the clubs but some launches have had mixed results. In March, Liverpool launched an NFT collection – called the Heroes Club – in partnership with London auction house Sotheby’s and generated £1.13m even though 95 per cent of the digital collectibles did not sell. Fewer than 9,000 of the more than 171,000 NFTs were bought and the club has faced criticism since values of those sold have dropped.
Manchester City have now launched several NFT collections in collaboration with artists including Jon Noorlander and Alan Bolton. The club dropped a collection of NFTs in May to mark their Premier League title victory.
Elsewhere in the trading marketplace, however, NFT values have tanked. OpenSea, one of the biggest NFT marketplaces, suffered a sales volume decrease by 75 per cent in May and June.
The value of Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs – one of the industry’s most successful and well-known collections – have fallen by around a third in the space of a month. Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil forward Neymar is one of a number of footballers to promote a BAYC collection.
The Premier League sent a legal letter to former Chelsea and England defender John Terry after he used the league’s trophy in his own NFT range. By the end of June, the price of his NFTs had plunged 99 per cent in value.
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