Warrington Wolves Chief Executive Karl Fitzpatrick has pioneered the entry of Rugby League into the world of monetising digital media, having launched non-fungible tokens in November that featured their star signing George Williams, encouraging their fans to buy unique digital assets that they could own and ultimately sell to other buyers if they were of a mind to do so.
The concept has been developed in other sports, particularly in the USA in the last twelve months, and Fitzpatrick admits that he is keen to see his club at the forefront of innovation when it comes to digitising and monetising its assets.
Already he is reporting that other clubs have been in touch in order to consider following Warrington’s example.
“We did seven versions of the NFT and the version we put out was like a George Williams collectors card, in the sense that that’s what it looks like visually,” Fitzpatrick told League Express.
“In terms of educating our supporters and trying to bridge the gap between a physical item and a digital item that is perhaps the best way to describe it. And we included a signed framed shirt.
“We have sold two of the seven items for £500 each.
“I’m always looking for new ideas to promote our club and I came across NFTs when I was looking at the NBA, who have been selling 30-second clips from games in their NBA Top Shot digital marketplace.
“We discovered that there was no Rugby League club that had gone to the market and I spoke to the Head of strategy at Manchester City to look at what they were doing.
“He explained that it won’t make them a fortune, but it demonstrates they are a forward-looking company.”
And Fitzpatrick will continue to explore cutting-edge technology.
“We will explore opportunities in the metaverse,” he added.
For example, the NFL have done a deal to sell digital items in the metaverse and we want to ensure that when kids are in the metaverse they can buy avatars from Warrington.
“If we are to make an impression with kids we have to be there.”
And Fitzpatrick confirms that other clubs are also looking to follow the Wolves’ example.
“Half a dozen clubs have come to us to learn from what we have done. Whether they take action after that depends on what they want to achieve with their supporter base.
“I also spoke with Blake Solly of South Sydney at length about this. They are looking to go to the market early this year with an NFT drop.
“All this illustrates that our sport needs to become more relevant; we need to modernise and be at the forefront of technology in this digital age.”
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