Arsenal has been chastised by the advertising watchdog for their promotion of fan tokens, which they claim “trivializes investment in cryptoassets.”
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that two advertisements posted on the Premier League club’s website and Facebook page in August were deceptive.
It claimed they failed to disclose the risks of trading such assets, potential tax implications, or the fact that the tokens are not regulated in the United Kingdom – and ordered that they not appear in the same form again.
The ads, which included a video of Arsenal players, were deemed “irresponsible” by the ASA because they “took advantage of consumers’ inexperience or credulity and trivialised investment in cryptoassets.”
On exchanges, fans can trade fan tokens, which allow them to vote on minor decisions such as the songs played at matches.
The Financial Conduct Authority classifies them as cryptoassets, a complex investment with large price swings that can expose investors to large losses.
According to the ASA, the Arsenal advertisements did not make it clear that the token was a cryptoasset that could only be obtained by opening an account and exchanging it for another cryptocurrency.
Its decision is part of the regulator’s broader focus on cryptocurrency, which it describes as a “red-alert priority.”
An Arsenal spokesperson stated that the club was seeking an independent review of the ruling and that it would “endeavour to comply” with the watchdog’s recommendations.
“We take our responsibilities for marketing to our fans very seriously,” said a spokesperson.
“We carefully considered how we communicated with fans about our promotions and provided information about financial risks.”
Arsenal told the ASA that fan tokens were intended to increase fan participation and were “materially different” from other cryptocurrencies used as a means of payment.
Over 40 clubs from Europe to South America have introduced fan tokens.
Manchester City, Crystal Palace, Leeds, Everton, and Aston Villa are among the Premier League clubs that have done so or plan to do so.
According to CoinMarketCap, the largest fan token, launched by Paris Saint-Germain, has a total value of $49 million (£36.7 million), compared to Bitcoin’s $929 billion. Arsenal’s total is around $7 million (£5.24 million).