The 'crypto' sneak into the sponsorship of Spanish football after the veto on betting

Atlético de Madrid took to the pitch last Sunday to play the first game of the season in front of their fans. The name of the stadium was not the same as in the last match of last season. The Wanda Metropolitan it went down in history and the new commercial sponsorship renamed it Civitas Metropolitano. The name of the mattress team's stadium is one of the sponsorship and money injection novelties that come to LaLiga this year. The clubs have made adventures to improve their accounts after the pandemic and the veto of bookmakers. The cryptoactive platforms, the technological ones or even the brick, together with the investment of the funds, take positions in Spanish soccer jerseys or stadiums.

Last summer the first chapter of this change arrived. The ban on bookmaker advertising on sports kits and in stadiums came into force. The clubs had to change sponsors. Some, even, with contracts that had recently been renewed despite the fact that the ban was already in the offing. This decision, promoted by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, has been brought to justice by LaLiga, who denounced the economic loss of this veto for the accounts of the clubs.

One sector that has found an opportunity in football, partially covering the gap left by bookmakers, has been investment services. This encompasses cryptocurrencies, NFTs, or trading. Around a third of the clubs in the Spanish first division have sponsorships on their shirts or commercial agreements with these platforms. This is the example of Atlético de Madrid, which this season debuts Whale Fin as a logo on its kit. It is a cryptocurrency exchange company owned by Amber Group, a Hong Kong holding company, which would have paid around 40 million euros to the club, according to various media reports.

Sevilla announced in June that Degiro would be their new main sponsor for this campaign. It is an online broker for the sale of shares. Although it does not trade directly with cryptocurrencies, it does offer investment services linked to the evolution of these assets in the market, which have been repeatedly criticized by supervisory bodies such as the CNMV and the Bank of Spain. This sponsorship replaces that of Naga, another broker, which in turn was chosen by Sevilla to succeed its previous advertising on the shirt, that of the Marathon Bet bookmaker.

Some top clubs have secondary sponsorships, which do not appear on the front of their shirts, with this type of platform. The world of NFTs and tokens also gains special prominence. These are crypto assets that are not specifically cryptocurrencies, although they have secondary markets where they are bought and sold. One of the companies that has gained prominence is Socios.com, which has agreements with multiple top teams to create platforms for club fans. The purchase of these assets offers the possibility of accessing certain votes, merchandising items or exclusive content. The platform recognizes that these assets can be sold later, even though it may be at a loss. Teams such as Atlético, Barça, Sevilla, Valencia or Real Sociedad have agreements with this platform.

Another company with similar services is Sorare. It is an online NFT platform, a kind of digital 'cards' for soccer players with which to achieve achievements based on their performance. These cards are limited and are auctioned by the platform itself, although they can later be resold on the market by the players. It is a company where footballers such as Antoine Griezmann, Gerard Piqué or Kylian Mbappé have invested, which has agreements with more than 200 football clubs and other sports around the world. In Spain it has alliances with various teams and even with the employers' association itself, LaLiga.

Cryptocurrency platforms have also become sponsors of major international soccer competitions. Last spring, FIFA announced an agreement with Crypto.com, one of the largest companies in the sector internationally, for the World Cup in Qatar. The competition, which was born with great controversy due to the problems of Human Rights in the country and the obligation to change the calendar of all competitions to be held in winter, will be one more step for this multinational in the world of sports, after having reached NBA franchises or competitions such as Formula 1. "It will help make Crypto.com known, by significantly increasing the visibility of its brand in the most popular sporting event on the planet," defended FIFA during the presentation of the agreement. Paradoxically, Qatar has restricted the cryptocurrency market since 2020.

Beyond cryptocurrency or NFT exchange companies, digital and technology companies have been carving out a niche for themselves in kit or stadium sponsorships in recent years. The most notorious landing is that of Spotify. The Swedish streaming music firm reached an agreement with FC Barcelona to put their logo both on the shirts and in the stadium, valued at around 280 million. Cazoo, an online platform for the sale of second-hand vehicles, has also entered Spanish football shirts this season with agreements with Valencia or Real Sociedad.

Not only the shirts have marked the entry of new sponsors, but also the stadiums. Two of the top three teams during the previous campaign, Atlético de Madrid and FC Barcelona, ​​have a new name.

In the case of the Blaugrana club, it is the first time that it has sold the naming of its stadium, something that had not happened with any other sponsor. The mattress team, for its part, has replaced Wanda, who gave the Metropolitano its name since its premiere and became a shareholder of the club, by Civitas Pacensis from Extremadura. It represents the return of the brick - the real estate company is considered the largest owner of land in Badajoz - a decade after the turbulent relationship between construction and football after the bubble burst in 2008. RCD Mallorca joins them, which It has also changed the name of its stadium to Visit Mallorca Estadi.

Another of the financial novelties of this campaign for LaLiga is that it is the first with CVC as a shareholder of the competition business. The venture capital fund entered months ago with 8.2% after paying just under 2,000 million euros. It was the first operation of this type that was closed in Europe. Subsequently, the same fund made a similar agreement with the French soccer bosses and the German Bundesliga has just opened a search process for investors, whose interested parties also include CVC. Venture capital has seen in the economic emergencies of European football a way of entering in exchange for obtaining profitability from the millionaire income from television rights. In Spain, the last agreement with Movistar + and Dazn reached 4,900 million for five seasons.

Out of this agreement were Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Athletic, who opposed its terms, in a confrontation that went to court. However, the first two have given entry to other financial investors who have been interested in the money of the two great Spanish football clubs. In the case of Barça, the term "levers" has become popular in recent months, which in short are disinvestment operations to obtain money with which to balance the club's accounts and sign new players. One of these levers was the sale of the television rights themselves. It was the US Sixth Street fund that took over 25% of this income in exchange for some 300 million euros.

The same investment fund has also landed at Real Madrid. The club is currently finishing off the renovation work on its stadium, the Santiago Bernabéu, with which it wants to cash in by holding more sporting or cultural events. The exploitation of this space has been sold, 30%, to said fund for about 360 million euros.

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