Complaints against Arsenal’s promotion of ‘fan tokens’ have been upheld by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority.
Earlier this year, the club announced a partnership with Socios, who sell unregulated cryptocurrency in the guise of a fan engagement platform, and three specific issues were investigated.
They related to promotions on the official website, and on Facebook. The ASA challenged whether:
1. ads (a) and (b) were irresponsible because they took advantage of consumers’ inexperience or credulity and trivialised investment in cryptoassets;
2. ads (a) and (b) were misleading because they failed to illustrate the risk of the investment; and
3. ad (a) was misleading because it did not make clear the “token” was a cryptoasset, which could only be obtained by opening an account and exchanging with another cryptocurrency which had to be purchased.
All three complaints were upheld, the authority stating that, “the ads must not appear again in the form complained about.
“We told Arsenal Football Club PLC to ensure that their future ads did not trivialise investment in cryptoassets and did not irresponsibly take advantage of consumers’ lack of experience or credulity by not making clear that CGT could be due on cryptoasset profits.
We told them to ensure that they made sufficiently clear that the value of investments in cryptoassets was variable and cryptoassets were unregulated.
“We also told them to ensure that they did not mislead consumers by omitting material information in their ads, including that Fan Tokens were a cryptoasset that had to be bought using another cryptocurrency.”
Socios has become ubiquitous across European football of late, but there are those – such as @uglygame on Twitter – who consistently highlight issues that should be of concern to the clubs who have partnered with them.
For example, you don’t have to be an Arsenal fan to buy Arsenal tokens, so the whole platform is fundamentally flawed in that regard.
Any club that has or is considering signing up with Socios needs to think what credible football-based explanation there could be for the below price movements. And if they can't come up with one, they oughtn't to be recommending fan tokens to their supporters. https://t.co/TcJdVyxrmb
— Martin Calladine (@uglygame) December 21, 2021
Ultimately, the monetisation of any fan base to provide the kind of ‘engagement’ that could and should be done for free is the main issue here.
If clubs genuinely want to give fans a voice, or let them influence certain non-key decisions, they could do that without making them pay for it, not to mention running the risk of losing their money in the process.
Be careful with your money folks.