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West Ham end controversial blockchain partnership

West Ham United have ended their deal with Socios.com – a digital platform that uses blockchain to provide paid-for supporter engagement.

The club announced the end of the partnership yesterday without a single “fan token”, the digital currency supporters could buy to vote on issues and events, ever being issued.

West Ham United fans had opposed the initiative since the deal was announced last summer, arguing that Socios.com was attempting to monetise supporter engagement – something the club should be doing for free.

“We are pleased this relationship between West Ham and Socios has seemingly ended,” said West Ham United Independent Supporters’ Association (WHUISA). “We hope another fan opinion exploitation scheme is never entered into by WHUFC and that our club will start to meaningfully engage with supporters going forward.”

WHUISA were one of many supporter groups, fanzines, websites and fan channels that came together to form the “Don’t Pay To Have Your Say” campaign against the club’s partnership with Socios.com

The FSA criticised West Ham United’s partnership with Socios.com when it was announced last year – arguing that it undermined the progress made on supporter-club dialogue by attempting to monetise fan engagement.

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 supporter engagement is now embedded in the English Football League (EFL) and Premier League rulebooks.

The FSA’s forerunners, the Football Supporters’ Federation and Supporters Direct, were part of the Government’s Expert Working Group that created these guidelines on supporter engagement and have been tracking their implementation at clubs across the country.

FSA chief executive Kevin Miles said: “The Socios model 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.”

West Ham United remain the only English club to have entered into a partnership with Socios.com, though the platform’s deals with clubs in Serie A and Ligue 1 are ongoing.

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