The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has come down hard on Arsenal FC for failing to explain risk and misleading fans about the volatility of cryptocurrency assets. The regulatory body in a ruling made available on Wednesday expressed its displeasure with the way the London club branded the latest token offering.
The two ads promoted the $AFC token, one via a Facebook post, while the other on a web page—both were published in August of 2021. The Facebook post encouraged fans to claim a token in order to vote what song they would play when Arsenal wins a match.
“Ben White, Calum Chambers and Kieran Tierney [Arsenal players] have had their say,” the post read. “But what song do you want to hear when we win? Download the Socios app to get your token and vote.”
Issuing tokens to fans is not really a new thing; clubs around Europe do it these days. Tokens allow users to vote on the outcome of certain decisions made by the club. About a third of English clubs plying their trade in the top flight division of the EPL are owned by foreigners; and tokens give them [fans] the opportunity to have a say in decision making.
The ASA took issue with the fact that risks associated with buying, trading, and investing cryptocurrency were not made available to the fans. Inexperienced fans may not be familiar with the use of the word “tokens,” which the ASA frowns at. Inexperienced customers according to the ASA are “unlikely to understand that the ad referred to cryptoassets.”
“We considered that cryptoassets were a volatile investment, subject to frequent change and one that could potentially lead to large losses,” the ASA said in the ruling.
An Arsenal spokesperson in a response per The Verge said: “We take our responsibilities with regard to marketing to our fans very seriously. We carefully considered the communications to fans regarding our promotions and provided information regarding financial risks.”
Arsenal FC has now added a substantial disclaimer to the webpage for the $AFC token to warn fans of the risk involved in buying them. The ruling will go a long way in setting the standard for other clubs—not just Arsenal.
The fact that the ASA had to step means clubs are probably not doing enough to protect their fans. Hopefully, this should change going forward.