Libereum, a Dutch cryptocurrency focused on the sports industry, has acquired Spanish soccer club Elche CF for $4.9 million in a move that represents a major step in their aim to “make cryptocurrencies go mainstream”. In a move certain to garner headlines, and ruffle a few feathers, the company aims to make its token, Liber, the sole form of payment within the club. Elche seemed a prime candidate for takeover due to their recent relegation from Spain’s Primera División due to unpaid tax debts and economic mismanagement, with a cash injection desperately needed. Libereum had also intended to purchase Dutch club Roda JC Kerkrade earlier in the year but that deal fell through.
Playing the Market
Libereum founder Cem Kumlar stated in a press release that Elche CF is “a beautiful football club that shares our vision of a cryptocurrency future”, adding that the company had no intentions of altering the footballing aspects of the club, just that it wanted to see them back in the Primera División. The Libereum website cites the purchases by drinks manufacturer Red Bull of two European football clubs as an example they wish to follow.
Instead of putting their own money into the club however, Libereum hopes that the gradual integration of the Liber token into the financial mechanisms at the clubs they run, from matchday program sales to sponsorship deals, will drive the value of the token up. Libereum will then sell their tokens at intervals in order to fund the clubs’ running costs. This brave move relies on both a successful integration of the token economy within the clubs and either a healthy cryptocurrency market or a decoupling of the Liber token from Bitcoin, neither of which is a given at this stage.
Elche the First of Many?
Soccer and cryptocurrency are not unknown to each other, with Italian side Rimini selling a 25% stake of the club through the Quantacoin cryptocurrency and Omar Faruk becoming the first player to be paid for in Bitcoin earlier this year. However, this is the first time a club will have its financial infrastructure based around a digital currency. No timeline has been put in place for implementation, but given the ambitions of the Libereum project it seems likely that Elche CF fans will not be the only ones using the Liber cryptocurrency to buy their half-time snacks.