The Bitcoin revolution has changed the world completely in the past year or two. What once was the territory of so-called “nerds and internet geeks” is now pretty much mainstream.
Most people have at least heard SOMETHING about cryptocurrency these days, even if many are still rather unfamiliar with the details.
A lot of services and businesses now work with cryptocurrencies in various ways, often with great success. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are becoming increasingly prevalent in the online gambling industry, for example, and are a popular way to fund accounts at gambling sites.
You can check out our Bitcoin gambling section for more useful info on that.
Rather surprisingly, it seems that Bitcoin is making its way into the world of soccer as well. Seven clubs from one of the most popular competitions around the globe, the English Premier League (EPL), have signed sponsorship deals that will be paid in Bitcoin.
But what does that mean for the sport? And what could happen in the future? Is it just a publicity stunt? Or does Bitcoin really have the potential to become an influential force along the road?
I will try to figure it out, but let’s start with the facts.
EPL Clubs Sponsored with Bitcoin
A recent sponsorship deal will see seven clubs from the English Premier League make their first moves into Bitcoin.
Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City, Southampton, Cardiff City, Newcastle United, Crystal Palace, and Brighton have become partners with the online currency trading platform eToro.
Each of them will start using digital wallets as a trial and receive their compensation for the sponsorship deal in Bitcoin.
It’s not exactly clear what will happen with their Bitcoin, or even if the clubs will actually use the digital currency, but it’s a step with some exciting potential.
Many believe this deal is a publicity stunt, and I can see why, but it does raise some interesting questions surrounding the future of Bitcoin and soccer.
The cryptocurrency and some of its successors, like Ethereum, for example, have already changed the internet and our concept of money to some extent. Can they actually influence a multi-billion-dollar business like soccer? And what does that mean for other big sports?
What Purposes Could Bitcoin Serve?
For Bitcoin to somehow become a part of the soccer world, it obviously needs to serve some kind of practical purpose and solve a problem better than the existing options. Let’s take a look at some of the possible uses of the cryptocurrency.
We’ve been seeing the transfer market explode in the past couple of decades. Players are being sold for hundreds of millions now, and the numbers are simply insane. A guy like Kepa Arrizabalaga, who’s only 23, cost Chelsea more than £70 million.
No disrespect to the young goalie, but that’s mind-blowing. The question is, could the clubs possibly use Bitcoin for such transfers in the future?
It may sound ridiculous at this point in time, but cryptocurrency could actually be a better option than traditional currency in huge transactions such as Chelsea’s recent purchase.
Just imagine the fees and formalities involved in a multi-million-pound transfer. On top of that, there are often add-ons that go through the same complicated procedures.
If two clubs agree to use Bitcoin, it would be so much easier, and most probably dramatically cheaper, to complete a transaction of this size. Simply send the money, and that’s it. Such an approach would also bring more transparency.
I would say that it’s not entirely crazy to think that this is a possibility somewhere in the future.
This one is obviously happening already! The deal between the seven EPL clubs and eToro is a sponsorship much like any other, just with the sponsor paying in Bitcoin.
We could see this happening more and more in the future.
As it stands, the clubs can’t do much with the cryptocurrency. They can’t use it in any meaningful way within the sport just yet. As a result, Bitcoin sponsorships certainly are unlikely to become a vital part of soccer anytime soon. The teams still need traditional currencies for all the expenses they have.
Holding Bitcoins could be seen as a long-term investment, though. Just imagine if any club had invested in Bitcoin before the rapid increase in the price happened. For some of the smaller teams, it could have made all the difference in the world.
To illustrate my point, the price of Bitcoin was around $1,000 at the beginning of 2017. It almost reached $20,000 by the end of the year. Any club invested in the cryptocurrency could’ve rapidly changed its financial status.
Based on this, sponsorships with Bitcoins or another cryptocurrency could actually have their place in soccer today, not as a source of cash that could be used right now, but as a look in the future.
Ticket Sales and Merchandise
This one is pretty simple, actually. The EPL clubs could easily integrate Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as an option you could use to buy season tickets or merchandise.
I would actually expect that at least one team has already done this, but I can’t find any evidence of that, so I might be wrong.
This move wouldn’t exactly be revolutionary, but it will provide more freedom and flexibility for the supporters.
One of the biggest advantages of being a Bitcoin user is that it can be easier, faster, and cheaper to buy stuff using cryptocurrency. Soccer fans would appreciate this when it comes to buying tickets and club merchandise.
If I have to be completely honest, this is one of the aspects where Bitcoin will struggle to find a place in soccer. In theory, the clubs could pay the players in crypto, but I don’t think any player or agent will agree with that.
It’s not impossible somewhere in the future, but it’s almost certainly far from the present day.
Reasons Why Bitcoin Will Have to Wait
There are certainly benefits of implementing Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. However, it will be a slow process, and there are many difficulties that will have to be somehow solved.
The current legal status of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, in general, is a complete mess. They are treated as a currency in some countries and as a commodity in others. They are banned by some states, others have regulated them, and there is a third group that doesn’t have any regulation related to crypto.
This creates a lot of potential problems with the usage of Bitcoin. I’m not quite sure what kind of taxes the clubs will have to pay, how will they declare any potential profits in BTC, and so on.
A lack of clarity on various issues could prevent the proper integration of Bitcoin into soccer.
Unless there is some kind of general regulation or at least some legal status in the near future, I’m afraid there won’t be many changes. Bitcoin and the similar currencies will simply be impossible to implement in soccer, or any other sport, for that matter.
The second major factor is the volatility of the crypto world. Sure, the traditional currencies also lose and gain value all the time, and this affects the clubs. A good example is the English Premier League.
The teams from the United Kingdom often conduct their trades with organizations from Europe which use Euro as their unified currency. As a result, the exchange rate between the British Pound and the Euro plays a huge role.
The recent events around Brexit have certainly affected the trades around the English soccer clubs, but this is nothing compared to the world of cryptocurrencies. You will often see Bitcoin, Ethereum, and the rest slide or rise significantly in a matter of days, even hours.
This would bring chaos to the soccer world, and I don’t think any club out there could actually afford such a level of uncertainty. In fact, this is one of the main reasons the crypto revolution has currently slowed down.
The big question is if this problem will somehow be solved in the near future.
I think it’s inevitable, or at least likely, that the major cryptocurrencies will eventually be more stable. But we don’t know if that will actually happen soon or not.
2017 was a crazy year, and although 2018 is a bit more settled, it’s not nearly stable enough for such a large industry like soccer to embrace crypto.
I’m not entirely certain if Bitcoin and the other cryptocurrencies are secure enough when it comes to millions and even billions. After all, the banks, with all of their downsides, look safer right now.
We’ve heard about Bitcoin thefts, hacks, and even lost wallets that can’t be restored. Once you lose your crypto money, you can’t go back. There’s no path to restore them. I don’t think that the soccer clubs can afford that.
Still, I believe this is the easiest problem so far. Technology should quickly reach the point when there are enough safety nets and security measures that could protect large amounts of money.
I can definitely see this particular issue solved within a couple of years or so.
All things considered, I think we are still far away from the moment when Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency will have a big part to play in soccer.
Still, the rapid rise of the technology has no limits, so you never know.
If the existing issues are resolved at some point in the future, we could actually see the cryptos involved in soccer or other major sports. It could bring a lot of benefits for most parties involved, most notably the clubs and the fans.
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