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New Funding Paradigm: Japanese Grassroots Football Clubs Launch Fan Tokens

An increasing number of Japanese amateur and semi-professional football teams are seeking to launch so-called “fan tokens” – prompting some to ask if a new model is developing for fundraising in grassroots sport in the country.

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Per Keizai, Coedo Kawagoe FC, a Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture-based football team established last year, has partnered with the crowdfunding platform Financie. The parties have struck a deal that will see the club launch its own token as it bids to gain entry to the J-League – the Japanese top flight.

In spring this year, one of Coedo’s rivals for a top-berth spot, Shibuya City FC, which also plays in the Prefectural Leagues, also struck a fan token deal with Financie.

Yano Takashi, a former J-League coach who now trains a number of youth teams in Kashima, in Ibaraki Prefecture (Greater Tokyo), told Cryptonews.com:

“Personally, I don’t know very much about blockchain and cryptocurrency other than what I read in the newspapers. But more and more nowadays I hear young business-minded types who are starting up football clubs talking about using [blockchain and crypto] as a way to raise money. It’s interesting, and if it helps channel money into amateur or semi-pro football, there’s nothing we need more right now than investment.”

The moves are an early indication that lower-division clubs are now looking to blockchain technology in an effort to fund their growth in moves not unlike those of major European clubs such as Juventus, Barcelona and PSG, whose fan tokens are now listed on numerous big-name crypto exchanges.

But Shibuya and Coedo’s decisions could have a much bigger impact on how the clubs are run in the long run: Token holders are being promised voting rights on issues such as official uniform design and other “club decision-making” matters.

Crucially, Coedo was established last year by two local entrepreneurs, both in their 20s – an indication that younger Japanese football chiefs are prepared to seek out crypto-powered solutions to their funding ambitions.

The club added that bigger token purchases would be rewarded with uniform giveaways, meetups with players and the founders, as well as other incentives. It stated, per a Financie release, that its initial coin offering (ICO) would run until late June.

The Financie platform has provided some 100+ projects with similar crypto-powered crowdfunding solutions, with multiple partners from the world of non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
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