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Captain, Leader, Legend, NFT Salesman

Captain, Leader, Legend, NFT Salesman

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The worlds of football and NFTs have collided since John Terry helped launch his own collection. Some are sceptical of his plans.


Transcript

Hi, I’m Andrew and this is the Playmaker.

One story, every day to make sense of the world of football. 

Today, just WTF is JT doing with his AKC NFTs?

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“At first look you might say: ‘Why on God’s green earth would someone pay 150,000 dollars for a literal jpeg picture of a cartoon monkey?”

Matt’s Crypto

Cast your mind back about a year ago.

You’d probably never heard of an NFT – a non-fungible token.

And let’s be honest, you might still be a bit unsure – what exactly are they?

NFTs are, according to the Collins dictionary, a ‘unique digital certificate, registered in a blockchain, that is used to record ownership of an asset such as an artwork or a collectible.’

It means you can own digital assets – like a piece of art, or a video, or a song, in the same way you’d own a painting in real life. 

The past year has seen their popularity skyrocket. 

The Collins dictionary itself named ‘NFT’ as its word of the year for 2021. 

But in the past month, NFTs have suddenly found a new audience – football fans.

And that’s largely thanks to one former player, who you’ve probably heard of. 

“345 games he’s played on this ground, he’s won everything there is to win, he’s led the club in a way that few could have imagined possible, and one that surely none will ever be able to match. Stamford Bridge rises to its feet one last time, to acclaim the captain, the leader, and the legend, John Terry.” 

Chelsea TV

For the past three years, John Terry had enjoyed a largely successful time as assistant manager of Aston Villa under Dean Smith.

He left in July last year, setting his sights on becoming a manager. He wanted to free himself of his daily responsibilities, and wait until the right opportunity came up.

Then, on 6th November, he set up a Twitter account. 

Not that unusual, you’d think – he had a bit more time on his hands, and probably wanted to connect with his fans. 

But the day after he started his Twitter account, he began posting about NFTs. 

‘NFT Community, JT is here’ read a tweet on 7th November. 

On Christmas Eve, he posted that he’d helped launch his own collection of NFTs – the ‘Ape Kids Club’, or ‘AKC’.

And on Christmas Day he tweeted that he’d bought his wife an NFT from the ‘Desperate ApeWives’ collection. It’s a picture of a monkey, with blonde hair, wearing headphones and a Chelsea shirt with John Terry’s famous number 26 on it. 

It’s… an alternative Christmas present, that’s for sure.

But the language used around all this was also bewildering. 

Terry’s tweet read: “Merry Christmas Mrs T! Had to get you a little something too!! Thank you @DApeWives for the PFP for TT on the #DAW #7599”

Translated, that last bit means: Thank you Desperate ApeWives for the profile picture for Toni Terry (that’s John Terry’s wife) on the Desperate ApeWives number 7599 (that’s the number of the 10,000 NFTs that were created for that collection)

John Terry was playing the NFT game at the TOP level.

So what do we think is going on? There is a lot of scepticism about NFTs, and plenty of accusations thrown against them. 

Snake oil. 

Plaything for the rich. 

Others warn it’s a volatile, dangerous industry. 

An underregulated sector, using celebrity influence to prey on regular people’s FOMO.

This criticism hasn’t gone unnoticed by John Terry himself. 

Here he is, speaking on a Twitter Spaces hosted by the Ape Kids Club on Wednesday night.

“A big thank you actually, from myself and I hope everyone’s listening because there’s been a bit of criticism, but every bit of criticism there’s been, there’s been five really nice messages from the community as well. So that’s been nice for me to not only receive that from football people but from the AKC, the AKFC, from the community itself, from everyone in the space, because like I say, it’s a big thing me going so public, I’m probably the first one in the UK to really go and announce on their Twitter Space and these kind of bits, so again I really believe it comes down to me believing in this space…”

John Terry, Twitter Spaces

Some of the scepticism is rightly founded. 

The criticism Terry was mentioning there wasn’t so much ‘criticism’, rather than potential legal action.

Some of the Ape Kids Club NFT collection featured drawings of the Premier League trophy, which is protected by its trademark and its use in any commercial venture requires a licensing agreement.

The Premier League wrote to Terry and Ape Kids Club to make that point last week.

The depiction of the trophy was swiftly removed from the NFT. 

The whole saga surrounding John Terry’s NFT project has slightly blurred where the worlds of NFTs and football can combine.

“My name is Tim Mangnall. I’m the CEO of capital block. It is a leading NFT agency, focusing on the sports sector across Europe and working with sports clubs.

“There is definitely now a slight misconception because people wouldn’t have heard of an NFT. Now they’ve heard of the issue of NFTs through John Terry’s project, and what he was promoting. 

“And then they put everything in the same bucket. 

“But that’s really where we come in. As a business, as Capital Block to try and help these clubs inform their fans.

“An NFT covers such a big scope. It’s not just about these art, profile picture NFTs of a monkey or a baby monkey or a pigeon or whatever it may be. 

“It can be around engaging with your fans and it can be any image that you want or videos or what have you. It has definitely brought it to light and there is more of a job now for clubs to make people aware of NFTs and not all NFTs fall into this same bucket.”

Tim Mangnall

***

The NFT world is incredibly new, and evolving at a rapid pace. 

There is scope to use them as a fan engagement tool, to give fans access to things like exclusive content, or digital collectible memorabilia.

Say, for example, if you own a particular NFT, it may give you access to real-life perks, like tickets to a match, or messages from the manager.

As we move ever more into a digital world, there will doubtless be some uses that haven’t been recognised yet. 

I mentioned at the start of this episode that this time last year you probably hadn’t heard of NFTs. 

In our sister, Sensemaker podcast from March last year, we said this: 

“The big hope then, is that NFTs could have a democratising power. And even if they do end up being a passing phase, they’re showing us something bigger – that in the age of the internet, anything can be monetised, and everything is for sale.” 

Sensemaker podcast

The past month has proved this – and for the football world, NFTs may be the next get-rich-quick scheme many football clubs jump on board with.

Will JT’s Ape Kids Club come to be seen as a leader… and a legend? Or a crash and burn failure? Given the rapid pace of digital life, we’ll know soon enough.

***

Today’s story was written by Andrew Butler, and produced by Ella Hill.