'Bitcoin FC' in the PL and the future of cryptocurrency sponsorship

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ADVERTISING: As the champagne corks popped, and the inevitable soaking of all followed, it was smiles aplenty at Vicarage Road.

Ismaila Sarr’s 11th minute penalty was enough to earn the Hornets a one-nil victory against Millwall, and with it an immediate return to the Premier League.


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For Watford it was the end goal of a testing season–the disappointment of relegation the campaign before was bottled, then subsequently used to provide the best type of motivation.

The newest members of England’s top-flight can once again bask in the light of global recognition, part of the most exciting league on the planet and all the attention that follows.

Promotion also marks the return of Bitcoin FC to the Premier League, a nickname for which Watford take great pride in.

During their last season in the division, the Hornets’ shirtsleeves were adorned by the logo of what has gone on to become the globe’s biggest cryptocurrency name.

“The partnership was something that challenged the accepted norm and we saw this as having real potential for starting new global conversations for the Club,” Paul O’Brien, Commercial Director at Watford explained.

“Throughout the 2019/20 season we welcomed the crypto community to Vicarage Road, they had the full matchday experience.

“It was a partnership that generated a lot of conversation digitally” O’Brien added.


On the flip side, the association for Bitcoin was enormous, the logo was immediately placed into 1 billion households across the planet, the eyes of an estimated 3.2 billion people saw its striking emblem.

Little can compete with the Premier League’s pulling power, and Watford were joined by Newcastle United on the cryptocurrency train that season.

The Magpies partnered with cryptocurrency platform StormGain, and the club’s head of commercial, Dale Aitchison, cited the “incredible opportunities and money-can’t-buy experiences for fans” that the relationship offered.


Cryptocurrency has emerged as a powerhouse over the last 12 months, and sports offer the best exposure for a growing market.

An April 2021 survey showed 11 percent of Americans own at least one type of cryptocurrency, that translates to 30 million people.

While in Europe the market is also growing at a rapid rate, five percent of Europeans own at least one cryptocurrency, that’s 37 million users across the continent.

Such vast numbers attract widespread attention, and in America – like the UK – sports teams are adopting crypto into their normal daily lives.


NFL side the Miami Dolphins are partnered with Litecoin, a cryptocurrency built on the premise of quick confirmation times and low transaction fees.

For global brands these partnerships offer fans across the world access to star players and behind the scenes snapshots, normally impossible for those who cannot physically visit their stadiums.

The themes for the NFL super-team are the same as those seen at Watford, “The Miami Dolphins are always looking for ways to enhance the fan experience,” Vice President & Chief Information Officer Kim Rometo said.

“This partnership with Litecoin provides the ability for guests to enjoy our 50/50 raffle while donating to a great cause,” she added.

Further examples of cryptocurrency normalisation and acceptance have been seen throughout 2021.

Formula One giants Aston Martin Cognizant and McLaren have both signed deals with crypto firms.

Aston Martin announced a multi-year partnership with cryptocurrency platform Crypto.com, while multiple World Champions, McLaren, have entered into a long-term association with Turkish crypto powerhouse, Bitci.com.

Motorsport was one of the first sports genres to strike a deal with cryptocurrency brands, NASCAR dipped its toe into the arena back in 2014 when the Dogecoin logo adorned Josh Wise’s car.

More recently, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey announced that NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace would race with Bitcoin livery on his overalls and car.


For those who thought crypto was a passing trend, these deals emphatically signal the opposite.

But are we near a stage whereby a major league becomes the Bitcoin Championship, or the Litcoin League?

It may sound a little far fetched, but who would have envisaged the Ligue 1 Uber Eats a few years ago?

In July 2019 the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) announced that food delivery service Uber Eats would become the new naming rights sponsor France’s top-flight, Ligue 1 from the start of the 2020/21 campaign, a partnership worth €32 million.

One-stop-shop food delivery was an emerging market, and one that was taken seriously, very quickly, with the French deal.


With cryptocurrency arguably ahead in terms of exposure and brand identity, what could an alliance such as the ‘Bitcoin Bundesliga’ bring to the German game?

The experiences of clubs like Watford, Newcastle and the Miami Dolphins shows cryptocurrency partnerships allow engagement with new and existing fanbases.

Aligning experiences to fans passions–something Europe’s biggest clubs and leagues defended emphatically and passionately this last month.

So could the real super leagues of the future be those who combine digital opportunities with existing norms, providing access to their global fan bases like never seen before?


ADVERTISING: this piece is part of four part series created in partnership with Sportsbet.io