Manchester City, of English soccer’s top-tier Premier League, have brought on board OKX, a cryptocurrency exchange firm, as an official club partner.
The partnership, announced earlier today, will span the club's men’s, women’s, and esports teams and represents another sojourn by the club into the cryptocurrency market – around three months after a partnership between City and decentralized currency firm 3Key lasted a little over 72 hours.
City and OKX will “collaborate on a number of exclusive experiences for OKX’s global customer base", City have said, while the partnership will also see OKX have an in-venue presence at the club’s Etihad Stadium in Manchester.
This in-venue presence will extend to the Academy Stadium next door to the first-team venue, and it has been reported by Forbes that the deal is a multi-year affair that is worth millions annually.
City make this move hot on the heels of cross-city rivals Manchester United signing up blockchain platform Tezos as its blockchain partner and training kit sponsor in a major multi-year deal last month.
That deal, thought to be worth in the region of £20 million ($27 million) a year, will see the Tezos brand feature on the club’s men’s and women’s training kits, as well as a series of fan experiences built on the Tezos blockchain.
In December, however, it was reported that the Premier League itself was opening an investigation into the growing relationship between crypto firms and clubs after fan groups aired concerns over that industry’s lack of regulation.
Reports of the probe came days after City suspended and then terminated their contract with 3Key, the supposed decentralized finance firm, just three days after it originally became an official club partner.
With no information regarding 3Key’s structure, ownership, or products available anywhere online (at least publicly), the contract is understood to have been canceled with hours left until 3Key faced a deadline of providing UK authorities with proof of its identity.
In the days following the partnership announcement, 3Key was repeatedly unable to prove its existence as a legitimate firm to UK-based media.
Roel de Vries, chief operating officer of the controlling City Football Group, has now said: “The new partnership aligns our shared values of innovation, drive for success and being at the cutting edge of our respective industries. Their broad and inclusive approach to targeting diverse audiences resonates with our approach.”
Jay Hao, chief executive of OKX, added: "We are delighted to partner with Manchester City, one of the world’s best-loved and most successful teams. Football and crypto share something important; they are for everyone, they create inclusivity within society.”
OKX, founded in 2017, is the second-largest crypto exchange in terms of transaction volume. The firm is based in Seychelles and claims to operate in over 100 countries.