The Future of Football Transfers? Messi’s PSG Move Partly Paid with Crypto ‘Fan Tokens’

Lionel Messi

Credit: canno73 / bigstock

Part of Lionel Messi’s stratospheric signing on fee in his move to PSG has been paid for in ‘fan tokens’, a unique cryptocurrency that allows supporters to invest in their favourite club.

The Argentine legend was in tears after confirming that he was leaving Barcelona in a press conference, however he would have soon perked up when details of his astronomic switch to Paris were revealed.

Messi is rumoured to be picking up £1 million per week as he bids to help PSG finally win the Champions League, and on top of that there’s a handsome signing-on fee to consider as well.

A PSG spokesperson confirmed to the news agency Reuters that a proportion of that fee was paid in fan tokens, which can be traded by supporters on a stock market style exchange. The ‘welcome package’, thought to be worth around €25 million, was partly made up of investments in the currency.

Marc Armstrong, PSG’s chief partnerships officer, said:

“We have been able to engage with a new global audience, creating a significant digital revenue stream.”

Presumably, Messi will take ownership of the tokens and be able to sell them if he wants – or hold onto them, knowing that their value will increase if he can help guide the Parisians to a silverware-laden season.

A the time of writing, each PSG fan token was worth $40 according to CoinMarketCap, with offerings from Barcelona, Juventus and AC Milan exchanging hands for $24, $14 and $10 respectively.

What are Fan Tokens?

PSG Fan Token Price Chart

By this point you have probably heard of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, which can be bought and sold on an exchange as their value fluctuates.

Fan tokens are an extension of that – an essentially intangible asset that will see their value increase and/or decrease over time, typically in a fashion that reflects how the club they pertain to are performing on the pitch.

The tokens also give fans some voting powers too, albeit on minor decisions – these have included Juventus fans picking their team’s new goal celebration song, to PSG supporters choosing a message to be printed on the captain’s armband.

PSG and Juve are just two of the clubs that have issued fan tokens so far, with Manchester City, AC Milan, Barcelona and Roma also amongst the first to pioneer the innovation.

The firm responsible for producing and managing fan tokens is, and they claim that they have already generated as much as €200 million for the clubs involved. For every token sold a nominal amount is invested back into the parent club, while the owner of the asset can sell it at a time of their choosing if they wish.

Like all digital assets, the fan token is unregulated and prone to wild swings in price – including a huge 130% gain in PSG’s value when the Messi deal was confirmed, with a trading volume of €1 million recorded.

Could fan investment, without divesting any real power to them, be the future of funding football clubs?