European soccer clubs have a long history of solid fan involvement. In some cases, this has stretched to collective ownership, most notably in the case of mega-club Barcelona FC. But in the last few years, Socios.com has greatly expanded on this tradition by issuing fan tokens. These tokens will soon be launched in the US as well. So, what are Socios.com fan tokens?
It is an app targeted primarily at soccer fans across the globe. However, it plans to expand offerings in other sports. We will get into that later.
Fans by tokens which can provide them with a symbolic stake in their favorite teams. The greater the number a fan possesses, the more say they have with the team. At least in theory. The release really caught on during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. With no spectators allowed on the grounds, teams scrambled to increase revenue and fans searched for novel methods of staying involved.
Founder Alexandre Dreyfus explains that the tokens only add to the revenue of teams: “It’s not cannibalizing any other revenue they have, and that’s important. It doesn’t touch ticketing; it doesn’t touch merchandising — it’s an additional revenue for a new type of consumer, which are these digital fans all over the world.”
The benefits include:
The tokens have turned into a tangible form of revenue for soccer clubs. In the first two years of its existence, member clubs reportedly raised over $200 million through the platform.
Every team can determine how much influence the fans get in exchange for their tokens. Obviously, teams do not want to have their major strategic decisions determined by a group of fans. So don’t expect to have a say in player acquisitions or sponsorship deals.
On the other hand, if the teams do not give fans a genuine voice, their tokens will be less popular. So teams try to create a space for influence on matters of (how shall we put this) lesser significance.
Here are some examples I found of burning decisions you can vote on with the Socios.com app.
The tokens are traded like cryptocurrency. Therefore, they can swing wildly depending on their popularity. So, you can take the prices here as a momentary snapshot rather than a reliable guide.
For every purchase, there is a 4.5% buyer’s fee. So, make sure to add that to your calculations of price. The tokens can be sold or traded to other socios.com users or on the Binance cryptocurrency exchange.
You can use a credit card, debit card, or cryptocurrency to add to your token wallet. However, your currency will be converted into CHZ cryptocurrency.
Prices are given in CHZ cryptocurrency. Unfortunately, it is currently illegal to trade CHZ in the United States due to Federal cryptocurrency oversight rules. But we have translated the prices into US Dollars for you. Yes, we are that helpful.
It seems that hype has more to do with the prices than performance on the pitch. That would explain why PSG has by far the highest token price. They may not have won anything yet, but the transfer of Lionel Messi to the Parisian club has given it a massive global profile.
There are games and quizzes on the app. To participate, you must own at least one token of the relevant team.
Winners can receive one or more of the following prizes:
Here are some examples I found on the app:
When you buy preexisting fan tokens, you have to do so at the market price. Since the Socios.com marketplace is crypto-based, it is highly volatile.
An FTO is an offering of new fan tokens at a fixed price. In most cases, this allows users to purchase them at a lower price. The more desirable the tokens, the better deal you will get on these releases. FTOs are fixed in time and the number of tokens issued. Therefore, it is a good idea to keep abreast of new FTOs.
It is an “augmented reality geolocation enabled token discovery feature.”
How do you engage in this augmented something or other? Glad you asked.
I was able to get some tokens even though I am in the United States. I could even do some of them without getting off the couch, which at my age is always appreciated.
The popularity of the tokens with young fans speaks volumes. For many die-hards, the opportunity to engage with their team and have a say is priceless.
Nonetheless, some fans are unhappy with the tokens. They believe that the price does not justify the participation level it buys and that supporting the top teams is already expensive enough.
Malcolm Clarke heads the English and Welsh Football Supporters’ Association. He believes clubs are “trying to squeeze extra money out of supporters by making up inconsequential ‘engagement’ online polls. Neither is a good look.”
No. The platform is soccer-focused because of the massive global reach of the sport. However, the designers have always envisioned broader applications in the sports world. It is also easy to imagine expanding this format into other fields such as fashion and entertainment.
Currently, there are significant offerings in other sports.
But the format will expand to other teams and sports worldwide, including the most prominent sports market of all.
I planned to buy one of the tokens to get a more hands-on experience for this review. And let’s be honest, because I want one. However, as of now, I cannot do so. Unfortunately, I live in California, which is part of the United States (sort of). So, as of now, the platform is not accessible in this country.
If you access it from the United States, you will receive the warning: “Our app has limited functionality for U.S. residents
right now, as we’re working on launching a more tailored US-facing platform experience.”
Socios.com is heavily engaged in an effort to bring the format to the United States. Right now, they are focusing on the NBA. They have signed up several high-profile teams. As of now (October 21, 2021), the following times have signed up and will have tokens available soon:
The Socios.com plan to enter the American market is focused on the NBA. That makes sense because the league has a more significant international profile than any other North American sport.
However, it will not stop there.
There are also plans to enter the NHL market. Some teams, like the New Jersey Devils, have already signed up. So we can expect hockey tokens soon. The company has already discussed plans to expand into the NFL, MLB, and MLS as well.
Socios.com markets these tokens as a way to have a genuine voice in the team you support. The actual experience falls far short of that goal (pardon the pun). Nonetheless, it does provide fans with a fun illusion of influence and plenty of giveaways.
Hardcore fans are always hungry for insider status and a sense of belonging, and therefore the success of the platform isn’t all that surprising. Even the most expensive Socios.com tokens are pretty affordable, so we don’t buy the claims that these tokens fleece fans. Fan tokens seem like engaging and harmless fun to me.
I look forward to getting a Mets or Knicks one soon in an effort to deepen my suffering.