Catalan soccer giants looking for new sources of revenue to overcome financial issues
Spanish soccer giants FC Barcelona have detailed the launch of their first ‘art’ non-fungible token (NFT) ahead of a sale at auction house Sotheby’s in New York next week.
The cash-strapped LaLiga club is positioning the digital collectible as a premium artefact, hoping that the artistic quality of the NFT, combined with the promise of exclusive benefits and the power of its brand will ensure it attracts a high price.
The NFT is an animated ‘audiovisual digital artwork’ titled ‘In a Way, Immortal’ featuring the club’s Dutch icon Johan Cruyff ‘flying’ through the air to score a goal against Atletico Madrid in 1973.
The winner of the auction will become a ‘Barça digital ambassador’ with exclusive club access, the right to play at the Camp Nou stadium and hospitality rights for five years. On top of that, they will be allowed to participate in an official ball handover before a friendly game.
“Barça with more than 400 million followers in social networks is constantly opening new ways to connect with our fans, and we believe that with the clubs new NFT strategy we found a unique opportunity to continue growing and consolidating the Barça brand,” said Joan Laporta, FC Barcelona president.
“[Johan Cruyff] being captured in such an artistic way is a great from of paying tribute to Johan Cruyff, this iconic moment and to the whole legacy and historical heritage of FC Barcelona.”
The club hopes the sale will raise funds for the club and kickstart a series of NFT initiatives that will deepen engagement with younger, more digitally native fans.
The animation was created by 40 Hollywood computer graphics and visual effects artists, who spent more than 10,000 hours on creating the 40 second film which is complemented by a soundtrack played by a 30-piece orchestra.
“NFTs have too quickly become associated with the explosion in demand for crypto, but with In a Way, Immortal we are bringing NFTs back into the realm of high art,” said Eric Sas, fiunder and head of innovation at BCN Visuals.
“In contrast to the basic NFT GIF, this mini-movie is a genuine piece of renaissance digital art—almost a piece of marble chiselled by the most talented visual effects artists in Hollywood. This project aims to become the new benchmark for the next evolution of NFTs where new digital artworks are akin to the masterpieces of yesteryear.”
That Barcelona should be interested in NFTs should come as no great surprise. The club has a huge worldwide following and huge brand power – assets which are hugely valuable when trying to monetise international fans who will never set foot in its Camp Nou stadium and identify new sources of revenue to help it overcome its well-documented financial issues.
It has sold its entire sponsorship inventory, including stadium naming rights, to music streaming service Spotify and US investment firm Sixth Street Partners will receive 25 per cent of the club’s LaLiga broadcast rights for the next 25 years.
By emphasising the artistic quality of the collectible, it hopes to leverage the power of this heritage and create something that might have genuine value and escape criticism of other NFT initiatives that have been portrayed as more cynical cash-ins.