- Liverpool FC launched a series of NFTs two months ago and 90% went unsold.
- Football players Paul Pogba and John Terry have also endorsed failed projects amid the crypto selloff.
- Fan groups have criticized teams and players for promoting unregulated assets.
In March, English footballer and UEFA Champions League runners-up Liverpool FC launched “LFC Heroes Club”, a collection of 24 non-fungible tokens featuring top-flight players.
90% remained unsold.
An NFT is a unique blockchain identifier that proves ownership of a digital artwork. The NFT market jumped to $41 billion last year, with traditional auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s entering the business.
But while the crypto saw dramatic gains last year, it has fallen dramatically in 2022. Bitcoin and Ethereum are down 38% and 52% year-to-date, respectively.
Most NFTs run on the Ethereum blockchain, which means they are priced in ether rather than dollars. Crypto’s struggles have erased a significant amount of value from the overall market, making it difficult to sell them to football fans.
“If a massive club like Liverpool cannot sell NFTs, that indicates general skepticism among fans,” Kieran Maguire, an academic specializing in football team accounting, told Insider in a recent interview. “[Soccer] is used to legitimize NFTs and market them as an investable asset, and that is cause for concern.”
Liverpool were the first football club to launch their own NFT collection, following in the footsteps of major brands such as Adidas, Nike and Playboy. They collaborated with Sotheby’s to launch “Heroes Club”.
But the move was strongly condemned by Liverpool fans, many of whom argued the sale of NFT was exploitative.
Liverpool’s inability to move 90% of their NFTs could deter other clubs from releasing their own collections. But several high-profile players have already endorsed digital art, with equally disastrous results.
In November, Manchester United and France midfielder Paul Pogba promoted the CryptoDragons collection to his 10 million Twitter followers, saying he had bought his first-ever NFT, “an egg with a dragon inside“.
One of the digital assets sold for 35 ETH, or $162,000, according to Pogba. Six months later, CryptoDragons is selling on OpenSea for as low as 0.018 ETH, or $32.
Pogba isn’t the only Premier League player to promote an NFT collection which went on to fail.
Former Chelsea captain John Terry’s “Ape Kids Football Club” NFT collection has dropped 90% in a single month, and individual “Ape Kids” can now be purchased for $0.019 ETH, or $34, on OpenSea.
Michael Owen, who has played for Liverpool, Real Madrid and Manchester United and is now a top British TV commentator, launched his own NFT collection in May, claiming his “NFTs will be the first to not lose their initial value“.
Owen’s NFTs have a floor price encoded in their blockchain, which means they cannot be sold below the price at which they were purchased. This does not prevent NFTs from crashing to $0, but it would prevent investors from selling lower to cut their losses.
Pogba, Terry and Owen are not financial advisers, but they and Liverpool FC have promoted NFTs as if they were solid, investable assets.
“It’s the job of [soccer] players to play [soccer]“, Simon Chadwick, professor at Emlyon Business School in France, told Insider. “We should not expect them to be concerned about the regulation of the metaverse or a possible crypto crash.
“But some players may be too quick to sign such deals and not challenge NFT issues enough,” he added. “Everyone involved needs to up their games.”
Read more: These 5 English Premier League Football Teams Are Launching Blockchain Fan Tokens – Here’s How They Plan To Use The $2.5 Billion NFT Marketplace To Build A Global Fanbase