The volatile but lucrative cryptocurrency boom has created vast fortunes practically overnight, and to new cash flooding sports and entertainment in aggressive brand-building efforts.
But the latest twist involves Peter McCormack, a Bitcoin (BTC-USD) investor and podcaster, who has opted for a different approach. He bought his hometown soccer club (or football, as it's called in the United Kingdom), in a bid to attract money to build the squad into a powerhouse.
Bearing hallmarks of AppleTV+'s breakout series "Ted Lasso," McCormack has become the new chairman of Bedford FC. He's now setting out to take his club to English football’s highest competitive circuit, the Premier League.
Born and raised in Bedford, McCormack told Yahoo Finance, it's a childhood dream that ultimately can help him build more hometown pride — and turn the team into a contender.
“Bedford is an area that really hasn’t seen any major growth apart from people moving back from London who can afford to buy bigger houses, and I was like 'what’s the one thing I can do?'" McCormack explained to Yahoo Finance.
"I’ve got a Bitcoin community of these crazy 100 million Bitcoin users around the world who will get behind the project. We can create success in the town with a football team,” he added.
But Bedford FC is "not a crypto club. This isn't about getting people to buy cryptocurrencies or [non-fungible tokens] or any of that nonsense," McCormack said.
"What we are is a football club that will be run as a professional business" that attracts sponsorships to create the money to spend on players, equipment and facilities," he added.
No 'flash in the pan'
Last year, companies bulging with fat with profits from a booming cycle for crypto confronted a new problem: Rapid growth didn't translate into name recognition.
To remedy that problem, many funneled over a billion dollars into advertising — and cryptocurrency exchanges were the most aggressive. Gemini commissioned a Spike Lee commercial, and Crypto.com paid Matt Damon to say “Fortune Favors the Brave” in a widely panned move.
But the most significant crypto campaigns have focused on sports, another sector awash in new money created by betting.
Enter the "Ted Lasso" analogy. The show features an English football squad competing in an open league, where the plot revolves around a bumbling American coach hired by a new owner to turn the woeful franchise around. Based on performance, the best and worst teams are promoted (or demoted) within a league.
The Bedford Football Club sits in England’s tenth division — which means the club must be promoted 9 times before it can compete in the Premier League.
No stranger to this system, McCormack’s strategy hinges on leveraging a worldwide community of Bitcoin enthusiasts to and advertising demand from Bitcoin companies.
5/ It is all about winning games, to win games you need the best players and managers. To afford the best players and managers you need to be commercially successful.
I will establish our club as the #bitcoin club, a team that operates on a #bitcoin standard. pic.twitter.com/UVfEEGNWbv
— Peter McLasso ☠️ (@PeterMcCormack) December 16, 2021
He's not the only one. The Washington Post first reported that WAGMI United, a group of high-profile U.S. cryptocurrency investors recently made an offer to buy Premier League team, Bradford City AFC.
“There are a few things for me that are lucky that converged in a few months. I’ve lived here [Bedford] for my whole life… I do understand British football. I love Football. I go to games all the time,” McCormack said.
The podcaster spent years building his own business from advertising deals with crypto companies for his show. From the level of interest in merchandise, and at the pace he is selling sponsorships, the club’s first year of revenue “could match a small league 1 club," the entrepreneur said.
According to the club’s website, it is already sponsored by three Bitcoin mining companies: Compass Mining, Hut 8 and Luxor.
Yet crypto is notoriously whipsaw. McCormack added that his team, which will be rechristened as Real Bedford FC, won’t be susceptible to short-term swings in Bitcoin prices.
“I don;t want people looking at this as a weird crypto project that’s a flash in the pan idea," he told Yahoo Finance. "It’s not a crypto project, it’s a business and football project. We just operate with a Bitcoin standard."
David Hollerith covers cryptocurrency for Yahoo Finance. Follow him @dshollers.