Arsenal crypto fan token ads banned by UK watchdog

Arsenal crypto ads banned for ‘misleading investors’

Arsenal Football Club logo                                 
Arsenal is seeking to challenge the rulling by the Advertising Standards Authority – Photo: Alamy
                                

The UK advertising watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), has banned two adverts promoting the Arsenal crypto fan token, saying they mislead consumers about the risk of investing in cryptos.

The ASA said the adverts “trivialised investment in cryptoassets and took advantage of consumers’ inexperience or credulity by not making clear that CGT [capital gains tax] could be payable on profits from investing”.

It added that one of the adverts “included no risk warning about cryptoassets and did not mention that fan tokens were a cryptoasset or that to buy them you had to first purchase another cryptocurrency, Chiliz”.

The advertising watchdog ruled that “the ads must not appear again in the form complained about”.

Arsenal is not the only Premier League team to launch a fan token with Chiliz, the global blockchain provider for the sports industry, and then follow on by promoting the fan token via fan engagement and reward app, Socios.com.

Crystal Palace, Aston Villa, Leeds United, Everton and Manchester City have also launched fan tokens, or are in the process of doing so.   

The ads that have been banned were on the Arsenal official website and on a Facebook post promoting the $AFC fan token. The Facebook ad featured a video with three Arsenal players – Ben White, Calum Chambers and Kieran Tierney.

Arsenal’s rebuttal

Arsenal said its marketing of the $AFC did include disclaimers and warnings that “any investment in cryptoassets can fluctuate in value and could potentially lead to large losses”.  

The advert also stated that in the UK, cryptos are not regulated. The football club also added that “we advise you to spend only what you can afford and seek independent financial advice if required”.

Due to this, Arsenal said it would be seeking “an independent review of the ASA’s ruling to seek greater clarity on the ASA’s current position”.

The Premier League team told the BBC: “We take our responsibilities about marketing to our fans very seriously.

“We carefully considered the communications to fans regarding our promotions and provided information regarding financial risks.”

Socios.com weighs in

In response to the decision by the ASA, Socios.com said: “We welcome Arsenal’s call for an independent review. This is a fast-moving area and clarity is needed to ensure all companies can adhere to the latest guidelines.”

Of those clubs that have partnered with Chiliz and launched a fan token on Socios.com, Arsenal is the first team whose marketing has been judged to breach advertising rules by the watchdog.

Other major European clubs have also signed deals with Socios.com, and many have either already launched a fan token. These include Juventus, Atletico Madrid, A.S. Roma, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and AC Milan.

Socios.com states 1.3 million fans from 167 countries are already using fan tokens on the app “to connect with and be rewarded by their favourite clubs”.

Arsenal Supporters Trust condemns Socios deal

Back in July, when Arsenal entered a partnership with Chiliz, the Arsenal Supporters Trust (AST) made it clear through a number of tweets that they did not support the decision.

The fan group said it was informed about the decision to partner with Socios.com but was given no chance to get involved or give feedback. The group said it is a “concern that the club is trying to monetarise fan opinion and engagement”.

Further reading

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