And why sports-related NFTs will also benefit.

Global revenue for professional sports was approximately $403 billion in 2022, expected to hit $680 billion by 2028. 

With the power of blockchain tech, there’s now a way to enhance the overall experience for avid football (a.k.a. soccer) supporters, particularly off the pitch. 
 Fan tokens. 
Even though the concept is still in its infancy, I expect these to become a hit in the coming years, mostly around the turn of the decade.
What are fan tokens? These digital assets tied to a specific club (or even national team) offer multiple incentives for its token holders. Some of these include:
— Voting rights to help shape the club’s future, at least in some aspects of its management
— Discounted tickets 
— Meet-and-greet events
— Stadium tours
— Social events
— Offers for merchandise and related collectibles 
Major clubs across various sports codes are multi-billion-dollar businesses that attract millions of fans worldwide. Thinking of football, the top-20 football clubs across a few European leagues bring in tens of billions of dollars…just the big ones.

Top 20 football clubs in the world, 2022–23 revenue. Source: 


What’s even more exciting — from a sports enthusiast’s perspective who’s also looking to profit from fan tokens — is that none of these leagues are in the top three in annual revenue. The top three globally are the NFL, MLB, and NBA, with the NHL coming in fifth. 
Official fan tokens endorsed by a team can help provide additional revenue and opportunities for supporters who cannot watch their favourite players, whether on the road or at home. 
Having lived in the UK (albeit briefly), I know that it’s common for people to travel worldwide to see the biggest names in football in person. 
These are the lucky ones who manage to snap up a ticket or, if they’re fortunate, a season membership for one of the football clubs mentioned above clubs.
In reality, many miss out, and a cohort of these local fans who currently have season memberships might not be able to continue doing so, particularly given the (reported) cost-of-living crisis in the UK in recent years. 

Having a match-day ticket was, is, and always will be the best experience. However, I’m expecting fan tokens to be popular with those unable to attend the matches, whether for financial or logistical reasons.
For some people, sport is like religion, and I see fan tokens as an extension of this, particularly for those wanting to display their commitment to their club and make the most of off-pitch experiences. 
Moreover, I wouldn’t rule out a cohort of (mostly younger) sports fans interested in engaging with the match-day experience through VR headsets, which can partially compensate for not being there in the flesh. 
Even though most emphasis on these tokens would be placed on the top teams across the biggest leagues worldwide, these digital assets could immensely benefit lesser-known professional clubs that aren’t rolling in cash. 
From a crypto and blockchain perspective, I’m all for having a wide range of fan tokens that can boost network activity and ultimately benefit coin holders for popular L1s: Ethereum, BNB Chain, Solana, Polygon, etc.

How will NFTs benefit from these tokens?

Sports memorabilia, comic books, posters, sneakers, costumes, and other collectors’ items will be disrupted by this phenomenon. Lowing the barrier of entry to own fragments of a physical good might help boost the unit price of each fractionalised asset.

NFTs also involve owning iconic moments across a range of sports. Popular examples in the North American market include NBA Top Shot, NFL All Day, and MLB Champions

Hence, I see fan tokens and related NFTs going hand-in-hand as part of the digital sports experience.
I expect these digital collectibles and ownership of fractionalised assets to become mainstream once we have ultra-cheap fees on Ethereum’s base chain, not just L2s and rival L1s. 
I know that NFTs also exist on Solana, which has ultra-low transaction fees and high throughput, such as BNB Chain, Cardano and Avalanche. However, Ethereum remains the top dog for dApps, particularly with NFT and dApps volume, among other metrics.

Chiliz Chain — a major L1 for sports tokens

In addition to these networks, I recommend following Chiliz (Chain) and its native token, CHZ. Fan tokens have launched on this EVM-compatible L1, such as Atletico Madrid, Juventus, PSG, and Inter Milan, to name a few. I expect this network to increase in popularity as more people embrace fan tokens and create new digital assets. 
Moreover, this is an EVM-compatible chain, meaning that Ethereum devs can readily move smart contracts to Chiliz and other networks operating with the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM).
I expect this to do very well in the coming years as it appears to focus on this niche of sports and entertainment-related tokens, which helps differentiate it from the swathe of L1s. 
The best place to find all the relevant fan tokens is, a platform built on the Chiliz Chain that covers tokens for fan engagement across more than 70 teams. 
Check out the following link for the latest football-related fan tokens prices. 

Final thoughts

Once all networks consistently keep transaction fees low on their base chain — particularly Ethereum — without compromising security and throughput (transactions per second), we should see the fan tokens across more clubs and sporting codes come to fruition. 
I imagine this will also coincide with the increasing popularity of crypto and blockchain technology.
In turn, this will also benefit other aspects of crypto, such as DeFi, NFTs, AI, and real-world assets (RWAs), to name a few.
During the last bull cycle, the NFT mania led many people to paint the entire space with the same brush and perceive these digital collectibles as scams. In their defence, many scams exist. Yet, there are many legitimate ones, and much like fan tokens, there will still be a demand for them. 
Just don’t get ahead of yourself and imagine these will moon. I’d still stick to Bitcoin and popular cryptocurrencies when trying to get ahead in this market, but you do you. 

Further reading and additional resources

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• N.B. None of this is financial advice; I am not a financial advisor. You are ultimately responsible for crypto investments, let alone in any asset class.

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• Information is correct at the time of writing.

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