I don’t know anything about Web3 — but here’s my thinking in real time from last night’s Unofficial Partner event.
Inspired by Lucy Mills (who is going to love the fact I’m posting about this) and her thirst to learn, I’ve been trying to figure out a bit more about the Web3 world recently. When I talk about football clubs not understanding where the world is going when it comes to women’s football, I equally don’t want to regret not learning and engaging in this area.
I am a sceptic, but not a cynic. We held a session on it at the Equality Summit back in August which was my first dangle of the toe in the water, and last night headed up to the Unofficial Partner’s first ever live event last night. It was a success (they will probably start an Unofficial Leaders soon, watch this space). Thanks to Sean and Richard for organising. I know more now than yesterday, but I also have more questions than I did yesterday.
So, as somebody who doesn’t know much, but is trying, here’s more or less what went through my head last night whilst at the event. Feel free to correct, challenge, debate or teach. Just don’t ridicule me (and also please don’t try and sell me crypto… just yet). And yes, I am totally aware that I may cringe at this post in a few years’ time.
1. So, at least everyone agrees you have to figure out “why” before launching into using Web3. This sounds obvious but even moreso for us at Lewes FC. We are already doing so many of the things that others are now offering only via a token. Our owners vote on governance processes, the choice of home shirt design, player of the month and have monthly TownHall meetings with me and the Directors. Do we need Web3? Do we need it to engage fans?
2. Also, do we know whether Web3 fan-engagement is actually engaging? Several guests argued that a lot of the things people are using Web3 for right now are too superficial.
3. But — we do create beautiful artwork via our famous matchday posters — and they don’t get the shelf life they deserve. Could they be incorporated into fans’ and supporters’ digital files or season tickets, so they can forever (electronically) thumb their way through them?
4. Web 1 to 2 to 3. At Lewes, we’ve had our one-way communication phase (we tell owners things), we’ve settled into our two-way communication (we can tell owners stuff and owners can tell us stuff and vote on things via the app and via townhalls), but we haven’t created three-way communication and collaboration (yet, we are working on this). This would essentially already be like a DAO of sorts, and I do think there’s value in a treasury being available for owners to decide what to do with (though again, is that not already possible?).
5. Web3 can enhance gamification (I hated computer games as a kid so I always struggle with this. Note to self, surround myself with younger, cooler people). Some new fantasy football style uses of web3 involve owning one of a few unique player cards. When those players do well (in real life) they unlock gifts and prizes for their owners. I wonder if this could be transferred in some way to our player sponsorship. If people sponsor a player or two, when they score/save a penalty/complete 80% pass rate etc etc, they receive special prizes (but do I need Web3 for this?).
6. Who is it for? Am I trying to engage and attract new Web3 oriented people to the club? Or am I trying to encourage existing fans into the Web3 Space? It can’t really be both as the Venn diagram of both is very small. Are these add-on or replacement activations?
7. Maybe it’s for our players? I understand Web3’s value for original creators. Can our players benefit from revenue opportunities using the Web3 creator economy? I don’t really understand how, but there are surely options there.
8. A blockchain ledger is a kind of glorified database. Your season ticket could become an online historical log of all the games you ever went to, alongside some unique art (like our matchday posters). But because you own the database, it means it can’t be destroyed (unless the blockchain goes…bust?) and is also unique and personal. An example was given about how a club at the end of the season might delete all ticket records in a person’s account by way of housekeeping. Or the FA might move on to a new system where data doesn’t transfer easily. This made me think of the millions of players up and down the country who don’t have a log of all the games they ever played in. I actually really do wish I had a log of every game I played in — that truly would be pretty wonderful — especially if I could see the line ups so I could check which teams and even which players I played against, 20 years on when they all went on to better things. God, I’ve found a brilliant use. Can I sell this to the FA and make millions? Is that even web3? Or just a better database?
9. Education, education, education. There are so many unknowns still and will be for another 5–10 years. There is a lot of distrust and scepticism. So, any early adopters need to focus on education, trust-building and onboarding. Lewes is potentially well-placed for this, as we are respected and trusted. But with that comes responsibility, and a need to carry on learning and overcoming our own unknowns and scepticism (if indeed they can be overcome).