Debt-Troubled Barcelona Enters The NFT Frame To Profit From Past Glories

Debt-Troubled Barcelona Enters The NFT Frame To Profit From Past Glories

Barcelona will auction its first official non-fungible tokens later this month after announcing a deal with Ethereum blockchain-based marketplace Ownix. Both are working together to mint tokens in the form of memorable Barcelona moments—like iconic club images—for fans to acquire.

Now is a troublesome time for Barcelona. Despite becoming the most valuable soccer team worldwide, the club is languishing in mid-table in La Liga without a manager, and its financial plight is well-documented.

The decision to market a collection of NFTs is unsurprising. The president, Joan Laporta, spoke about how the alliance will strengthen the club’s brand and attract a new audience. All this is true. The real incentive, however, is financial, given its debt problems at present.

One of Laporta’s goals when beginning his second tenure as club president was to seek new revenue streams. Stepping into the NFT world helps tick that box, as the Blaugrana can now profit from some followers’ interest in digital collectibles.

“Barça has a large fanbase around the world and is leading the way in the digital domain with over 400 million followers on social networks,” began Laporta in a statement.

“Given this scenario, the club is constantly looking for new ways to connect with fans. We believe that creating these NFTs is a unique opportunity to continue growing and establishing the Barça brand by bringing unique moments that have made fans dream and FC Barcelona a well-known club on every level.”

Barcelona is not the only side to see potential in NFTs. Before the current campaign, Serie A side Roma struck a bold deal with Zytara Labs to market collectibles on platform DigitalBits, its shirt sponsor this season. As for Barcelona’s national rivals, Real Madrid has collaborated with Fantastec SWAP to provide supporters with trading cards and moments.

Although the Catalans’ deal with Ownix symbolizes a breakthrough, Barcelona’s links with NFTs and cryptocurrency are nothing new. Perhaps their biggest fan is Gerard Piqué, the team’s loyal, business-minded central defender who, among other ventures, has dabbled in the digital trading card scene.

How valuable Barcelona NFTs are is up for debate, and only time will tell. Launching an array of tokens seems like an empowered move, but it also comes from a position of need, if not desperation.

Currently, Barcelona is not wowing on the pitch, so harking back to the good old days is the ploy here. With icon Lionel Messi gone, it brings back fond memories while other sides around Europe look stronger on the pitch. NFTs could appeal to affluent buyers’ sense of nostalgia, or the club's on-field struggles could see interest wane compared to what it would have been in previous years.

These tokens do, however, demonstrate an evolution in the team’s relationship with fans. Traditionally, its members—also known as culers—have held esteemed positions, with the power to vote in club elections and receive discounts on television content and tickets. Building relationships with digitally-oriented supporters is a somewhat different pursuit. If the items are a hit with followers, they could generate some welcome income.

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