The so-called Bitcoin (BTC) soccer team, Real Bedford Football Club, has won the United Kingdom’s South Midlands League for the 2023 season.
Fans from all over the world, from Vancouver to Beijing, flew in to watch the last home game and see the trophy raised. Some 327 fans turned up, many of whom had traveled thousands of miles across the globe to watch a non-national league soccer team in a North London town.
Some photos of our final home game of the season where we were crowned league champions.— Peter McCormack☠️ (@PeterMcCormack) April 16, 2023
We had a record crowd of 327, this is up from 50-80 last season. Thank you to everyone who came and has supported us. pic.twitter.com/u19kcpO3WM
At the first home game of the season in 2022, Bitcoin podcaster and club chairman Peter McCormack told Cointelegraph that he bought Bedford FC and rebranded it to be Bitcoin-friendly Real Bedford, sharing his vision of one day owning an English Football League side. The move would also put his beloved town of Bedford on the Bitcoin world map.
Pitchside and jubilant nine months later, McCormack told Cointelegraph that he’s now one step closer to realizing his soccer league dream. Moreover, the fans and the critics are starting to believe:
“It’s an underdog story. The thing is, it’s got more meaning now because there’s coming out and saying ‘Yeah, I’m going to buy a football team — making a Bitcoin team and getting it in the Premier League.’ And everyone’s like, ‘Yeah, shut up you w*nker.’ But now, I’ve done the first promotion.”
Real Bedford’s promotion delivers more than just recognition for the club. The club has a Bitcoin logo on its strip, crypto sponsors, and curiously, opposed to a founding date, i.e 2021, the emblem sports a founding block height: 712,003. As Peter explains, the win for Real Bedford is a win for Bitcoin:
“This is going to sound really cringy. It’s not my team; it’s our team. But it is. It’s our team. It’s our Bitcoin team.”
Bitcoin advocates worldwide tuned into live streams of the game during the 2023 season, while stories of Bitcoin soccer fans from Slovakia traveling to Bedford to paint the town red have become local legend. The team has given British Bitcoin advocates a headquarters and Bitcoin sports lovers worldwide a team to rally around.
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However, McCormack is reluctant to push Bitcoin the currency onto his local town: “I don't talk about Bitcoin much here because Bedford's a deprived town, and I don't want people thinking, 'Oh my God, there's that guy who's made some money on Bitcoin. I’m going to buy Bitcoin,’ then they lose their money.”
Indeed, Bitcoin is still 60% lower than its all-time high of 2021, and Bedford, like many U.K. towns, is on the decline. Battered by inflation and economic mismanagement, closing down sales and boarded-up shops overshadow the high street. McCormack explained that it might not be wise to grandstand Bitcoin in such an environment:
“They [the people of Bedford] can see it, they can come to our [Bitcoin] meetups, but it’s a soft touch. It’s my Trojan horse. It's a Trojan football.”
The Bitcoin trojan horse, a meme in the Bitcoin space popularised by Alex Gladstein of the Human Rights Foundation, explains that Bitcoin adoption delivers freedom as well as wealth. For McCormack, rather than capturing Troy, he could emulate the success of Bitcoin Beach in El Salvador, but in Bedford:
The Trojan football ☠️ pic.twitter.com/fh77fufvcx— Peter McCormack☠️ (@PeterMcCormack) April 11, 2023
Each Real Bedford home fixture puts on a pre-game Bitcoin meetup. Locals and traveling Bitcoin enthusiasts ask questions and learn more about the decentralized currency, while Real Bedford merch can be bought using the Lightning Network. A show of hands at the last game of the season demonstrated that, for many people, it was their first real-life interaction with Bitcoin.
“The goal is to communicate Bitcoin to the country. It's a bit like El Zonte was the seed that turned El Salvador into a Bitcoin country. I want this to be the seed that makes our country understand and have better regulations towards Bitcoin.”
It might be an uphill battle. Despite grassroots efforts from Brits at the Bitcoin Collective and the Bitcoin Policy U.K., government ministers are still trying to understand what Bitcoin is and how to regulate crypto.
Ultimately, the Bitcoin party atmosphere over the weekend–champagne showers, dancing with the kit man, and nights out to the wee hours in Bedford–will have to contend with a country committed to adopting CBDCs or central bank digital currencies while a cohort of the U.K. population is unable to afford basic amenities.
Undeterred and committed to the long game, McCormack told Cointelegraph: “I’m going to be here for the rest of my life here in Bedford at every game I can possibly be at trying to lift up my town.”
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