Connect with us

Crawley Town

‘In 15 to 20 years and Crawley Town are in the Premier League, that’s a pretty crazy underdog’

‘In 15 to 20 years and Crawley Town are in the Premier League, that’s a pretty crazy underdog’ said Preston Johnson.

He and Eben Smith are the founders of WAGMI United, the “crypto bro consortium” who made their money in cryptocurrency and used it to buy the West Sussex outfit in April.

They believe there is the potential for a ‘pretty crazy underdog story’ at the club, but they will need a huge amount of changes and three promotions if they want to get to the big time.

They have come in at Broadfield Stadium, appointed Kevin Betsy, ‘revolutionised’ season ticket prices and have changed the view of a lot of very sceptical fans.

The groups slogan on their initial web homepage was ‘from crypto to the Premier League’ and their ‘mission statement’ was they “seek to reimagine how professional sports teams are owned and operated — building communities of passionate fans and empowering them to take a personal stake in telling their team’s story and shaping its future.”

They also have plans to bring Web3 (a term for how developers think the Internet will look like throughout the next decade with non-fungible tokens (NFTs), metaverses, blockchain technology and crypto) under their control and use it to expand the club’s fanbase globally and open new revenue streams, likely selling NFTs that give “fans” influence over ways the club operates.

In an interview on the Lower League Look podcast, co-chairman Preston Johnson said they had spoken to nine clubs before taking over Crawley Town.

“Part of this thesis is that feeling on an underdog story. If you go into League Two, and there’s a world and everyone would laugh, but in 15 to 20 years and Crawley are in the Premier League, that’s a pretty crazy underdog story right?” Johnson told the podcast.

“That opportunity to take this technology that allows for remote communities and have fan bases attach themselves to Crawley Town and have them tell this story with us over the years, to be along for the ride, that was just a feeling and opportunity we feel we couldn’t pass up on.

“There’s a high correlation between NFT users and Americans, from there there’s a high correlation of Americans speaking English.

“If we go to Portugal to buy a club, there may be a better chance of getting into the Champions League right out of the gate, but most people aren’t going to understand the games if they are streaming online.

“The price point made sense as well, it wasn’t too extraordinary for our group to make an investment here. Everything stacked up to make the perfect set-up.”

Preston spoke more on WAGMI United and those associated with it, with it’s members to be revealed on a microsite launched in ‘six or seven’ days, but he did reveal one name – Gary Vaynerchuk, commonly known as Gary Vee, a Belarusian-American entrepreneur, author, speaker, and Internet personality and the co-founder of the restaurant reservation software company Resy and Empathy Wines.

It’s also thought that businessman Daryl Morey, president of National Basketball Association side Philadelphia 76ers and TikTok personality Bryce Hall are included.

Johnson said: “Gary Vee – he is the best. He’s a business genius and also really into sports. He’s big on building communities and finding a way include and grow together.

“For him, he’s gone on record to say he wants to buy the New York Jets one day. The Jets are going to cost him a lot of money, and he will get there one day, this is just a nice entry point for him to see how a club full of crypto and Web3 owners as well as other sports business owners, how would they run it, how will they do things differently.

“We want to be more open and transparent, let our fans make some decisions. And take their decisions and make some changes, like the season ticket prices. They said they were too much and we looked and the highest average season ticket price in League Two was Crawley Town. And they have the fewest fans.

“There are a few people in this group who are intrigued how this plays out because they are already attached to another sports teams in America and potentially other countries. If there is something they can gather or learn in our process, they can use for their own team or club, that’s part of the reason why some of these bigger names are involved.

Johnson was uplifted after Lower League Look presenter said that as soon as he heard Gary Vee was involved, he knew they were serious. Johnson said: “A lot of fans, Crawley, Bradford, EFL in general, they don’t think a few steps down the line. They say ‘Oh my god crypto’ they don’t even want to consider it.”

The Athletic stated: “WAGMI United is a decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO), a group governed by computer coding — usually in the form of crypto tokens. Anyone who holds these tokens can vote on matters related to the DAO. The decisions are carried out by automated contracts. No middlemen, no bosses.”

When they held talks to buy Bradford City in December 2021, the Bradford Telegraph and Argus reported: “Under the WAGMI United plan, online investors and fans all over the world could purchase “a piece of the team” in the form of digital collectibles such as videos, photos or characters.”

Eben Smith told the Washington Post that the group would be “starting from scratch” – which would allow them to be “riskier in what you allow your brand to become. Then you can work with your community to figure out what it is together.”

The Yorkshire Post say: “Cryptocurrency is a controversial topic within football because it relies on a market which is hugely volatile and unregulated. Some clubs sell virtual “fan tokens” to bring in revenue, but WAGMI suggested they intended to go further as part of ambitious plans to buy a lower-league football club and take it into the Premier League.”

The i’s chief football writer Daniel Storey wrote in December: “On the face of it, and if you squint to avoid the deep set environmental, ethical and financial concerns about the rise of cryptocurrency, you can just about make a case for this as an ambitious ownership model. Rather than shares, supporters would own an NFT that they might generously interpret as a piece of their club. The WAGMI United group would then use the capital raised to fuel the club’s progress (they are particularly keen to invest in data analytics).”

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Droneologist (@droneologistuk)

Fans reacted as the co-chairman of the League Two club says ‘In 15 to 20 years and Crawley Town are in the Premier League, that’s a pretty crazy underdog’…

@GabSutton: Respect to Preston for taking the time to speak openly. Few owners do that. Some of the ideas I can see merit in even if I’m not on board as such. But if fan voting/involvement on recruitment (33:00 on) as a concept succeeds, it’ll contradict everything I believe about football.

@Scribblemilk: I don’t think fans should be anywhere near recruitment decisions, let’s face it even professions get it wrong, what chance do fans have.

@LowerLeagueLook: I think what they’re saying is that the management will identify key areas where they’re happy to improve, and then essentially the fans will say “yeah we agree”. They’re not going to tell the manager no, there’s going to give the manager and the fans what they want.

@AndyBantamsCarr: Good insight to their model and to be honest if it works out it could become the standard model for football in this country.

@bcafc_george: Interesting, but unfortunately I just can’t support an investment group that has made it’s money from crypto. Crypto and NFT’s are unethical on so many different levels and the fact I know Gary V is involved just highlights what the WAGMI United group is all about.

@CarolBates: A good watch with some decent questions (and answers) to give more of an insight into what we’re going to see over the next year or so. Looking forward to the start of the new season!

@Boropod: We’re still of air on our summer jollies, so give TLLL latest episode a listen, as the fellas chat to @crawleytown’s new Cryptoboss…

@fish01551: the beard chat was clearly the highlight 🤣seriously thanks for the insights . Looking forward to the journey

@therealgsj: Had a hell of a lot of fun man! Still excited for your season and will be looking out for both Crawley v Hartlepool games next week 👀

@AlexBurke1: Just listened to this. Superb listen. Really really interesting. Nice one 👍

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in Crawley Town