Web3 sports sponsorships 2024: big opportunity or big gamble?

Web3 sports sponsorship deals seem to be ubiquitous these days, with everyone from Binance to Tezos getting in on the action. In a recent analysis, we took a look at every current Web3 sponsorship deal in the English Premier League and F1 motor racing to gain an understanding of how much these deals cost, what Web3 subcategories are most prominent, and what the underlying branding strategy is.

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Web3 sports sponsorships 2024: big opportunity or big gamble?

Web3 sports sponsorship deals seem to be ubiquitous these days, with everyone from Binance to Tezos getting in on the action. In a recent analysis, we took a look at every current Web3 sponsorship deal in the English Premier League and F1 motor racing to gain an understanding of how much these deals cost, what Web3 subcategories are most prominent, and what the underlying branding strategy is. Will sponsorship provide the mainstream breakthrough Web3 firms are hoping for, or is it a massive gamble? 

As a boy growing up in the south of Spain, I quickly grew to over 1.9 metres tall in my early teens. As a result, while some of my smaller, more nippy contemporaries developed an enthusiasm for football, my natural height advantage drew me towards basketball. For a young fan at the time, there was only one show in town — the NBA. The exotic tales of larger-than-life characters with names like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Scotty Pippen and Dennis Rodman were the stuff of legend. The fact that we couldn’t actually watch any of the games on terrestrial television only added to the air of mystique surrounding the league. 

But there was one thing notably different about the NBA compared to the La Liga football teams that my friends were so passionate about: the shirts were virgin territory, featuring no sponsor logo. In fact, it wasn’t until 2017 that the NBA finally yielded to commercial imperatives and allowed sponsor logos for the first time. But that didn’t stop basketball being a massive branding vehicle. As the recent film Air dramatises, Jordan’s shoe deal with Nike in 1984 transformed the fortunes of the company in the decades which followed, demonstrating the power of sports to propel a brand.     


The crossover between Nike and basketball shoes was fairly obvious. But do marketers sometimes overestimate the effectiveness of sports sponsorship in other industries? In recent years, there has been a frenzy of Web3 sports sponsorship deals. From Tezos becoming Manchester United’s official blockchain, to Bybit’s $150 million sponsorship of Red Bull Racing, and even — whisper it — FTX’s ill-fated stadium deal with Miami Heat, there seems to be no end to the flow of crypto cash into big sports teams. 

I have been quite critical of these types of deals in the past, as I feel that they build narrow name recognition rather than a cohesive brand and that the mass exposure they provide is broad, untargeted and inefficient. But I don’t want to just rely on my gut, I want data too. To understand the Web3 sports sponsorship phenomenon better, we recently did an analysis of all current Web3 sponsorships in the English Premier League and Formula 1. We looked into what percentage of teams have Web3 sponsors, what subsectors of the space are most represented, what the agreements cost, and what the underlying strategy behind this glut of deals might be. Read on to find out what we discovered.

What’s the strategy anyway?

Given the sheer number of crypto sports sponsorships, there must be some strategy, right? Surely this can’t just be a case of marketing groupthink, with each Web3 CMO trying to outdo the competition with ever more expensive and attention grabbing deals? 

While groupthink and ego probably play a role, I do believe there is a strategy at play. The goal here is to win the fame game: to plaster your logo on so many shirts, stadiums, and advertising hoardings that you become synonymous with the entire product category — to transcend the media bubble of Web3 to become a household name in the crypto space. When you want to modify a photo using digital software, most people have an instinctive word association for that task: Photoshop. Adobe doesn’t need to target advertising at you for you to make this connection. It is such a cultural juggernaut that you do it naturally. This is one of the advantages that massive name recognition brings: you become the default option against which all others are compared. Some Web3 firms see sports sponsorship as the quickest route to mass name recognition. After all, what other pursuit unites such a wide swathe of the global population while exciting such passion?

But this is a high-cost, high-risk strategy. It usually occurs in relatively immature markets as early movers vie for market share. Later, the market tends to settle down, the winners of the battle become clear, and the sponsorship deals tail off. There can only be a very small number of household names in any sector. That’s why in the early 2000s, mobile phone sports sponsorships by firms like O2, 3 and Vodafone were everywhere but nowadays, they are much rarer. And in what some commentators have described as the sports “naming-rights curse”, history is littered with embarrassing reminders of firms for whom this high stakes gamble didn’t pay off, from Enron Field to the FTX Arena

Do sports sponsorships really represent value for money? How much do sports fans overlap with your target market? Is it realistic to expect to become a household name before you run out of runway? These are the questions Web3 companies should ask before inking new sponsorship contracts. With that said, let’s take a closer look at the current complexion of the Web3 sports sponsorship scene.

Premier League Web3 sponsorships by subcategory — 2023/2024

Looking at the data we collected, 14 out of the 20 Premier League teams have agreements with Web3 sponsors this year, a bit less than last season when seventeen clubs were in on the action. Notably, all the big guns in the league are included. All told, nine out of last year’s top ten teams have at least one Web3 sponsor. The only exception is Brighton and Hove Albion, which considerably overachieved by finishing in the top half given that it had one of the lowest player wage bills in the division.

Interestingly, half of the teams with Web3 deals in place have signed more than one, but they usually make sure not to have more than one sponsor in each Web3 subcategory. Take Manchester City, for example. They’ve got an exchange partnership with OKX, a fan token deal with Socios, and a gaming collab with Animoca Brands.


When it comes to Web3 subcategories, cryptocurrency exchanges take centre stage. In total, eight Premier League teams have signed agreements with crypto trading platforms: 

The lineup:

OKX: The Seychelles-based cryptocurrency exchange inked a multi-year, sleeve deal with Manchester City in 2022, reportedly worth £55 million ($70 million). 

BingX: Never to be outdone on financial matters, Chelsea signed their own sleeve sponsorship agreement with BingX in 2024, an Asian exchange not accessible in the UK. 

Etoro: The most well represented player in the category, the Israel-headquartered exchange has the status of “Official Trading Partner” for four Premier League clubs this season: Arsenal, West Ham, Crystal Palace, and Everton

Others: The lineup is completed by Brentford, which has partnered with CoinJar since 2021, and Burnley, which agreed a deal with Uphold in 2023.

Some notable absentees:

Some exchanges with a strong presence in other markets – such as Binance, Crypto.com, and Coinbase – are currently missing from the Premier League. 

Fan Tokens

The second most prevalent category of Web3 sponsor in the Premier League is fan tokens. One firm dominates this category: 

Socios has signed deals with six clubs: Manchester City, Arsenal, Aston Villa, Tottenham Hotspur, Crystal Palace, and Everton. These tokens enable fans to vote on decisions like the choice of stadium music and player number allocations while offering the chance to win “money-can’t-buy experiences”, like visiting the player area in the stadium or watching a match in the VIP zone. The tokens can also be traded on secondary markets. 

Fan tokens have drawn quite a bit of criticism from fan groups and the UK government for exposing fans to potentially large financial losses. Liverpool, for instance, has made it clear that they won’t be releasing a fan token, stating that being a fan shouldn’t come with a price tag.  For Premier League fans who were hoping to make profits with fan tokens, the game probably didn’t play out in their favour. According to CoinMarketCap at time of writing, the value of tokens from the six teams that have partnered with Socios has dropped by an average of 49.5% since launch.

Socios argues that the real goal isn’t about increasing token values, but about enhancing fan engagement. They claim that most buyers are not motivated by speculation and say that fan tokens offer a unique way for supporters to interact with their favourite clubs. 

Gaming/Trading Cards

This category involves Web3 companies which are using sports statistics or club IP to create branded gaming experiences. There are currently three players active in the space:  

Sorare: Although the club distanced itself from the concept of fan tokens, Liverpool has done a deal with Sorare, an NFT-powered fantasy football game. Participants aim to build their dream team by collecting NFTs of players and compete for points. There are also exclusive prizes on offer, like a visit to Anfield stadium, merchandise, and video content. This comes in addition to the NFT company’s deal with the Premier League, which reportedly cost £30 million ($37m) per season.

Animoca Brands: In a similar move, Manchester City has teamed up with Animoca Brands, a Web3 gaming company, since 2020. This partnership allows City players and the club logo to feature in mini-games and NFT collections. 

FanBlock: Finally, there’s Tottenham Hotspur, which has partnered with FanBlock for the 2023/2024 season, and now becomes the club’s official “MetaField Partner”. FanBlock offers a fresh take on fantasy football, where participants own parts of a virtual pitch, earning points and prizes when key events like goals or assists happen in their space. 


Anyone who has watched a football match on TV over the past decade will be aware that the sport is awash with gambling advertising. Thus, it is unsurprising that crypto-flavoured gambling sites have entered the fray too. These firms operate sports betting services and online casinos that use crypto as the primary payment method. There are currently three Premier League sponsors in this space:

Stake.com: Likely the biggest deal in this category, the casino, sports and crypto betting site became the main shirt sponsor of Everton in 2022 in a deal reportedly worth £10 million ($12.55m). 

Duelbits: the Isle of Man-based crypto betting company promises to combine the thrill of sports betting with the excitement of a crypto casino. In 2022, it signed a deal with Aston Villa to become the Birmingham club’s Official European Betting Partner.

Sportsbet.io: Online gambling is illegal in Saudi Arabia, but that didn’t stop Saudi-backed Newcastle United from partnering with this Estonian-based crypto casino and sports betting site in 2023.


Blockchain is one of the less represented Web3 subcategories, with only two current Premier League sponsors. This may reflect a view among Web3 marketeers that the mass audience reached through sports sponsorships is less suited to layer-1 blockchain projects, which can be more difficult to explain to a mass audience than exchanges, games and fan tokens. 

Tezos: Surely the bigger of the two deals in this category, the Swiss-based layer-1 became Manchester United’s official blockchain and training kit partner in a multi-year deal agreed in 2022 reportedly worth £20 million (€24m) a season to the Red Devils.

World Mobile: the Cardano-based mobile phone network extended its partnership with newly promoted Fulham FC in 2022 in a deal which saw it become the sleeve partner of the London club.


The final subcategory of Premier League Web3 sponsors, wallets and payments, features only one player:

Rapidz: the multi-currency wallet and cryptocurrency payment solutions provider penned a deal with newly promoted Burnley FC in 2023, who were that year’s EFL Championship winners. 

F1 motor racing Web3 sponsorships

As we gear up for the upcoming F1 season, it’s interesting to note that half of the ten teams have concluded sponsorship deals with Web3 companies. This is a significant shift from 2022 when every F1 team had at least one Web3 sponsor. By the start of the 2023 season, this number had dwindled to 60%, likely due to the fallout from the collapse of FTX, a former sponsor of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team, home to one of the sport’s biggest stars, Lewis Hamilton.

Despite the controversy, Red Bull Racing, one of the championship’s largest teams, didn’t shy away from signing a bold sponsorship deal with cryptocurrency exchange Bybit. The deal, reportedly worth $150 million over three years, represents a significant investment in the sport. In a departure from the norm, the financial terms of the contract were not kept under wraps. Instead, Red Bull Racing proudly trumpeted that the agreement was the “single largest per-annum cryptocurrency venture yet seen in international sport”.

Interestingly, some Web3 sponsors are looking to make an even bigger splash. They’re not just content with their logo on the car; they want their name on the whole team. Case in point: the Swiss F1 team Sauber Racing, previously known as Alfa Romeo F1, has been rebranded as “Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber” for the 2024 season. This change comes about as a result of a two-year title sponsorship deal with Stake.com, reportedly worth a whopping $100 million. While the new name might make traditionalists weep, there’s no denying the visibility it brings.


Web3 firms are leveraging sports sponsorships to boost their brand visibility in an effort to capture a larger market share. The ultimate objective? To become a household name in the crypto sphere, decreasing the need for targeted digital advertising.

As the crypto market continues to mature, it will be fascinating to observe the unfolding dynamics. Which companies will successfully navigate this high-stakes race and emerge as dominant players? This remains to be seen.

However, Web3 companies should be careful when assessing the efficiency of this strategy. Will allocating substantial marketing budgets towards reaching mass audiences really make an impact, especially when a large proportion of these audiences do not yet grasp the fundamentals of Web3? This is the key question that any Web3 CMO should answer before negotiating new sports sponsorship deals. And if a deal is already in place, make sure you have a detailed, integrated and holistic strategy and plan in place, to maximise the ROI from your deal. 

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