WAGMI United LLC has bought a majority stake in the Red Devils and has promised to take an innovative approach to club ownership as they seek to raise the profile of the club
The cryptocurrency investors behind the Crawley Town takeover have pledged to create a “global community of fans” for the League Two club.
WAGMI United LLC announced on Thursday that it had taken a majority stake just months after a similar deal to buy Bradford City fell through. The company is to use non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as a model of ownership, allowing people around the world to make decisions about the club, while generating valuable revenue streams. NFTs have no physical form but can be bought or sold.
WAGMI co-founders Preston Johnson and Eben Smith will take over at a club with an average attendance this season of 2,249 – the second lowest in the EFL.
In a statement, Johnson said: “Crawley Town Football Club is a club with over 125 years of rich history which we revere and respect. However, a conventional approach to ownership has not worked and the club are losing hundreds. thousands of pounds as his fans suffer year after year of lackluster results on the pitch.
“We believe the club can do better and our fans deserve better. Sport is meant to be fun and bring communities together. At Crawley Town we will challenge the status quo, try new ideas and build a world community of new fans. and alumni who can be delighted to cheer on the Red Devils together – stretching from West Sussex to anywhere in the world with an internet connection.”
The bold plans also extend to giving fans a voice in terms of the directors’ future. Johnson and Smith say fans will be able to decide whether or not to keep their role for the following season if the team fails to achieve its goal of winning promotion to Ligue 1 by the end of their second campaign in charge.
Smith said: “If we’re trying to build a community club, and we are, we need to create mechanisms to hold ourselves accountable. So if Crawley Town Football Club aren’t promoted to League One by the end of our second season, which we think is about 50/50, so we underperformed. If we underperform, Crawley Town fans should be able to vote on who the club’s next managers will be.
Crawley are currently 13th in League Two with the play-offs out of reach and the club safe from relegation, in what is their seventh consecutive campaign at the fourth tier. Crawley manager John Yems said: “It’s an exciting time for the club. Hopefully we can build on the good progress we’ve made and take the club forward.”
Cryptocurrency has taken on a bigger role in football over the past few years. In 2018, the Turkish team Harunustaspo became the first football team in the world to buy a player using Bitcoin. More recently, eToro has become a major player in advertising and sponsorship after signing deals with clubs like Tottenham, Leicester and Newcastle in the Premier League.
And in February, Manchester United agreed to a lucrative £20m sponsorship deal with blockchain platform Tezos.