Yorkshire-based championship football team Hull City may be about to change hands as international bidders make their interest known in what is being referred to as a takeover in the UK media.
Last weekend Paul Duffen, former chairman of Hull City AFC, announced his intention to buy the club with the backing of Saudi Arabian private investors. Duffen led Hull City to its first Premier League during his time as chairman but resigned in 2009 with the club in dire financial straits.
However, new players have entered the game – the Hull City Supporters Trust (HCST) and SportyCo, a cryptocurrency crowdfunding platform operating on blockchain technology. SportyCo allows investors to crowdfund for and invest in athletes, paying for training and maintenance in exchange for dividends based on athlete success.
SportyCo is backed by the local HCST as well as a consortium of US and UK investors and are preparing a £45 million ($58.9 million USD) bid to purchase the club. Hull Daily Mail reports that if SportyCo wins the bid, fans will be included into the ownership structure of the club and as such will be able to work with the consortium on team matters.
Hull City is currently in the English Football League Championship, the highest division of the English football league and the second highest overall in English football after the Premier League.
The platform’s CEO Marko Filej has reportedly met with the owners of the club, Assem and Ehab Allam, and sent an official letter to formally begin negotiations. HCST chairman Geoff Bielby stated:
“We are 100% sure that this new and unique approach of combining institutional investors and the fan base will enable us both to achieve our goals, a successful and stable Hull City AFC that will be a joy to watch play. This model will surely be emulated by other clubs in the future and Hull City AFC fans are thrilled to be the trendsetters of how fans take a more active role in clubs they support.”
This isn’t the city of Hull’s first brush with blockchain – in 2014 the Hull City Council launched what may have been the first ever local government cryptocurrency, HullCoin. HullCoin was then adopted as a means of rewarding local volunteer work carried out in Hull, the idea being that residents could volunteer and be rewarded in a cryptocurrency that could only be spent within the community among local retailers.
The tech-savvy city is also known for being the only UK city with its own independent indepdent telephone network and broadband provider. Hull City Daily Mail Sports Editor James Smailey commented on the positive response from fans upon hearing that they would have a presence on the football board were SportyCo’s bid to go through. He pointed out that the negotiations with Paul Duffen’s investor group were at a more advanced stage, and that fans would have to wait until later this week for more information on the Allams’ decision.
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