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West Ham attempt to monetise fan engagement

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

West Ham United are the first English club to partner with socios.com – a digital platform that uses blockchain to provide paid-for supporter engagement.

Supporters will be able to buy “Fan Tokens” from Socios which gives fans the ability to vote on selected “club decisions, earn club rewards and compete for once-in-a-lifetime experiences.”

The club’s commercial director Karim Virani said: “West Ham United’s presence on Socios.com’s state of the art platform will further give us the ability to interact and get direct feedback in real-time from our global fanbase which will be important to our future fan engagement strategy.

“We’re very excited about the possibilities Socios.com offers us to give fans the best experience possible, whether they live within a mile of the stadium or thousands of miles away.”

The tradeable Fan Tokens are limited in number, and their price is driven by the market according to Socios.com. They say the platform is being developed to help sports teams “increase fan engagement and achieve essential investment from fan-monetization”.

Since 2016, clubs have been required to meet with their supporters to discuss club matters under Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) guidelines. This “structured dialogue” is now in the English Football League (EFL) and Premier League rulebooks.

The FSF and Supporters Direct contributed to the Expert Working Group that created the Government’s guidelines on supporter engagement and have been tracking their implementation at clubs across the country.

FSF chief exec Kevin Miles said: “We worked quite closely with the Premier League, FA, EFL and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to create a set of recommendations which all league and clubs adopted to greater or lesser extent.

“They included many principles around how clubs and leagues should engage with supporters along open, democratic lines.

“The Socios model runs counter to that as it attempts to monetise fan engagement which the leagues and clubs have committed to doing for free.

“There should be no financial barriers to engaging with your football club.”

Thanks to PA Images for the image used in this article.

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Funding partners

  • The Football Association
  • Premier Leage Fans Fund

Partners

  • Gamble Aware
  • Co-operatives UK
  • FSE
  • Kick It Out
  • Level Playing Field
  • Living Wage Foundation
  • SD Europe