- Manchester City has halted its deal with 3Key after the weak presence of the online crypto platform raised questions.
- Fellow football giants FC Barcelona canceled its marketing deal with NFT Onyx market last week.
- Crypto companies flock to professional sports teams to build awareness and credibility through partnerships.
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Football giant Manchester City has backed away from its partnership with crypto start-up 3Key, in a development that underscores the risks facing professional sports teams as crypto firms seek marketing deals.
The football club, which topped the Premier League last season, has decided to suspend its deal with 3Key after questions were raised about a lack of information about the decentralized finance company, media reports said on Friday.
Last Monday, Manchester City and 3 Key Advertise on Twitter They have signed a deal to make trading analytics and advisory platform DeFi an official regional partner for the team.
In a now-deleted online statement, the club said it was “excited to partner with 3Key on their journey to simplify the Decentralized Trading Analysis (DeFi) user experience through the power of football to connect with our fans with a range of content and activations.”
The Guardian reported last week that it was not clear what area was involved, and investigations by a mob of online investigators failed to find a location or significant online presence for 3Key. Two of the company’s websites went offline on Tuesday, but one has since been back.
The report said a search for some of the executives named in its press release found no digital fingerprints for them, nor for Ryan S Hodder, 3Key’s chief marketing officer in the Manchester City ad.
In the wake of the reports, the English football club felt lukewarm about the deal, going through Statement posted on Twitter By Jacques Gauguin, Daily Mail reporter on Friday.
“Spurred by the club’s interactions with 3Key Technologies in recent days, Manchester City are now conducting further inquiries regarding 3Key Technologies and the partnership has been suspended pending a satisfactory resolution of all such inquiries,” he said in the statement.
The UEFA Champions League contender said it was “doing due diligence” on all of its partnerships, and noted that the deal with 3Key had been announced, but not activated. The club did not respond to a request for comment from Insider.
Manchester City isn’t the only one going down the crypto path carefully. Fellow football giant FC Barcelona on Thursday canceled its marketing deal with Ownix, a marketplace for non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The partnership enabled Barcelona fans to purchase NFT items linked to the teams’ history.
The Spanish football giant said it had canceled the partnership “in light of information received today that contradicts the club’s values”. It did not respond to a request for comment from Insider.
The move follows the arrest of Ownix-linked entrepreneur Moshe Hogeg on charges of crypto-related fraud, the Associated Press reported. His lawyers told The Times of Israel that Hoggeig denies all the allegations against him.
Ownix denied having anything to do with these matters in Twitter On Friday, it said it was ending its advisory agreement with Hogeg.
Cash-rich crypto companies are teaming up with professional sports teams for sponsorship and marketing deals, as regulators and companies crack down on crypto ads.
Recently, the operator of Los Angeles sports site Staples Center – home to the Lakers, Clippers, Kings and Sparks – said the sports venue would be renamed Crypto.com Arena after striking a deal with the Singapore-based crypto platform.
In an aggressive marketing campaign, Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX exchange snapped up the naming rights for the Miami Heat in a $135 million deal, and bought ad for the 2022 Super Bowl.