Understanding Metaverset and Web 3.0 can help make sense of Chelsea’s massive valuation Ed Warner

It was the shoes that put me in my place. Queuing to attend the SportsPro Live jamboree at The Oval in April, I scanned my fellow girl’s shoes and realized that my traditional black leather lace-up shoes pointed at me like the dinosaur I am.

If not literally the oldest person in the conference, then also mentally. Reading, badly shod as I was, I dived out of my comfort zone into all that metaversion to hit your future engagement in the sport.

It would have been easy to fill my two days on familiar ground, absorb lessons in developing women’s football, host major events and the latest digital marketing trends. But the mermaid called me to the virtual reality rocks. And not just me, because the sessions on the meta-verse and the wonders of Web 3.0 were full.

Perhaps comforted by the sight of an old man in a suit, who was necessarily the least versed in the new era, I was often asked in the breaks between sessions if I still understood it. I felt a tangible relief when I said no – they were not alone! But coming from The Oval, I think I now “get” the technology (not how it works of course, but what it does). I just do not understand the extent of the sport’s current madness over this.

Most enlightening was a joint presentation of LaLiga, the top tier of Spanish football, and their metaverse partners, GreenPark Sports. The plan is a digital world that goes beyond just mirroring the physical, a world where fans interact online during LaLiga matches – a life with two screens – and compete against each other to predict the game’s flow and ebb.

Welcome to GreenPark’s virtual sports world – the first mobile test site for sports fans. It’s time to dress up your favorite team and take on your rivals in epic battles to win Fanergy. Now you can prove, once and for all, that you are the most valuable fan. Then the game starts.

GreenPark’s website

Their target markets are players and collectors, two tribes that are attracted by the lure of the virtual prizes they can display in the meta verse. How to make money on these types of “dungeons and dragons”? One example that was mentioned was participating in a real LaLiga match that “unlocks” a virtual asset that cannot be earned in any other way. However, it is hard to see that this represents a large pile of bitcoins or euros. It’s also scary to consider the competition from global esports giants, which will undoubtedly dominate the virtual reality (VR) market.

Which makes Wolverhampton Wanderers’ strategy exciting. Russell Jones, Wolves’ head of marketing and business growth, underlined the ambition of the eighth Premier League team to be ‘the ultimate challenger club’ with a ‘we dare to be different’ ethos. He tried to expand his brand to the leisure world by launching a record company and a high-end model line aimed at the Chinese market (the club’s owner country, Fosun International).

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The Premier League club’s Wolves have branched out into areas such as fashion and gaming

None of these brand extensions made my heart skip a beat when I heard them explained. But I’m not looking for a few gold and black steps. Wolves Esports, however, is another matter. Ten professional game teams have been created across a variety of major title formats. They have claimed 20 million followers in China, helped by recruiting top players (check out King Pro League star Captain Fly – just pass it on …). Needless to say, they play in gold and black sets with the Wolves logo.

The crossover with the football team is more flimsy than LaLiga creating its own virtual universe, but I can imagine real money being generated by effectively licensing the Wolves brand for a major e-sport. Provided, of course, that sufficient financial muscle is devoted to both sides of the empire – and that neither of them is disappointed with the performance on the field or in the other’s arena.

Fosun International has a market capitalization on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange of approximately £ 7 billion (USD 8.6 billion). Despite all of Wolves’ broad ambitions, it seems unlikely that his relatives can save the means to take him beyond ‘challenger’ status, but there is enough on the model to suggest that he will be a distraction during the next few years.

Compare Fosun’s valuation – of which the football club is only a small part – with Chelsea’s price. The media recently published a comment from Todd Boehly, head of the consortium that won a £ 4.25 billion ($ 5.2 billion) bid to buy the club, which he made in a Bloomberg interview a few years ago .

When I was growing up, we had Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, but I certainly did not know Man United, I did not know Chelsea, I did not know Tottenham. Kids these days are fully aware of what is best and the Premier League is best. I still believe that there is a global opportunity for top clubs.

At my expense, Boehly, 46, was a youngster when Pac-Man and Donkey Kong took off, so very impressionable. If its goal is today’s influential young people with parallel virtual existences stretching out in front of them, mixed with electronic games, then the assessment of Chelsea’s brand is starting to feel a little less insane.

Then brace yourself for your kids or grandchildren (remove depending on your age) who are chasing you in the future to get a new skin from their chosen team, provided of course you have already paid for their VR headset and all other necessary material. No more Panini stickers, but their digital equivalent, and not just ordinary or non-fungal tokens in the garden, but custom tokens to enhance their status and self-esteem in the metaverse.

Whether you can then persuade them to venture through wind and rain to be with you in a real game in the physical world is up to you and your ability to sell the attractions of the cultural heritage sport.


Ed Warner is president of the official charity for GB Wheelchair Rugby and Crystal Palace FC, Palace for the Life Foundation. He was chairman of UK Athletics for a decade until 2017 as well as the London 2017 World Championships in Athletics and World Para Athletics Championships. He writes about sports business at sportinc.substack.com.

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