Premier League football club Southampton FC has entered into a partnership with cryptocurrency betting website Sportsbet.io. The new venture will give Southampton fans the chance to take in the matchday experience during the COVID-19 lockdown via virtual reality headsets, while influencers will reportedly be granted sums of Bitcoin (BTC) to create unique VR experiences.
Sportsbet.io became the main club partner of Southampton FC at the beginning of the 2020–2021 season, and the United Kingdom-based betting site now aims to utilize its matchday rights in the virtual realm. Sportsbet.io also signed a three-year partnership with Arsenal at the start of the season, becoming the club’s official betting partner in the process.
Tim Heath, founder of Coingaming Group, which operates Sportsbet, said he foresaw a growing relationship emerging between football and cryptocurrency.
“We think cryptocurrency has a big future in football and we’re right behind it. Alongside fan experiences like this, we’ve just seen the first Bitcoin transfer take place where a footballer was purchased using cryptocurrency and signed for DUX Internacional de Madrid, and earlier this year NFL pro footballer Russell Okung said he’s getting his salary in Bitcoin,” said Heath, adding, “We’re likely to see more of the same — from clubs finding new ways to engage with fans on a match day to the way business is done at the top of the game.”
The connection between cryptocurrency and football blossomed in the past few years. Sportsbet has also formed sponsorship deals with Championship team Watford FC, as well as major Brazilian team side Flamengo.
The year 2020 also saw footballers launch their own cryptocurrency tokens, while more major clubs got involved with blockchain or crypto in some way. These include German footballing giants Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, in addition to the historic Italian club S.S Lazio, and Spanish titans FC Barcelona.
David Thomas, chief commercial officer at Southampton FC, said the club was excited to be part of an ongoing process that could shake up the status quo.
“As a club our digital approach has always looked to redefine the content status-quo and we were excited at the shared values between ourselves and the Sportsbet.io team," he said.