A-League soccer side Perth Glory FC are poised to be acquired by British fintech firm London Football Exchange (LFE). The deal, subject to approval by the FFA, will make LFE a majority shareholder in Perth Glory and pave the way for a radical new ownership model that’s previously only been trialled on Melbourne City within Australia.
Multi-club ownership (MCO) entails a consortium maintaining a controlling stake in two or more teams. This model allows synergies between the clubs to be explored, while raising the profile of the respective teams overseas. The Asian market in particular is seen as a lucrative territory for soccer clubs to target. It has become common practice for soccer teams such as Manchester United (NYSE:MANU) and Barcelona to hold pre-season tournaments in China and South Korea to cater to their sizable support in these soccer-mad nations. Perth Glory face an Asian trip of their own next week when they head to the Ajinomoto Stadium to take on Tokyo FC in the Asia Champions League.
Unpacking London Football Exchange
London Football Exchange is an unusual company in that it is not technically an exchange or a football (soccer) management company per se. Its multi-disciplinary team straddles the financial, technology, media and entertainment sectors, and is known for its readiness to embrace technology as a means of transforming traditional businesses. The company was one of the first entities of its kind to adopt blockchain technology when it held a US$70 million token sale in 2018. LFEC is the ticker assigned to its soccer loyalty token which trades on Bithumb Global, a major cryptocurrency exchange.
The concept of creating a universal soccer cryptocurrency is not as outlandish as it may sound. Forward-thinking soccer clubs have embraced esports, setting up their own gaming teams, and a number have introduced crypto tokens that can be used for fan experiences, purchases from the online club shop, and to administer loyalty points. When viewed within this paradigm, LFE’s acquisition of Perth Glory as the first phase of a multi-club ownership model makes sense.
In a statement, LFE Group Founder Jim Aylward confirmed that “Perth Glory has become our first targeted acquisition.” He also praised “the hard work and commitment from my team and the belief from the wider token holder community” in pushing the deal through. Other domestic clubs will be watching closely to see if LFE can revitalize Perth Glory and turn the club, currently sitting third in the A-League, into a global brand that can gain a following on other shores.