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On Football and Business Podcast, What The Footie, Akin Solanke-Caulker, Founder & CEO of The Athletic Network breaks down the business of football.

football and business podcast

This week’s What The Footie Podcast is with Akin Solanke-Caulker, Founder & CEO of The Athletic Network.


In this exclusive, Paul & Akin discuss his recent work with Erling Haaland, the marketability of footballers, our love for US sports culture and how football is crossing over with other sports and industries, as well as the growth of and the commercial opportunities for the women's game and the future of sports agency.


Check out Part 1 with Akin back in Episode 25.


In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:


1) How athlete brand building and sports marketing work?


2) Why cross-pollination is the most important word in athlete brand building?


3) Where the future of sports agency lies...


What The Footie is the football and business podcast that goes behind the scenes. From the backroom staff to the board of directors, click here to listen to the biggest agents, directors and deal-makers in the game.

7s is a series of blog Q&As by Football and Business Podcast, What The Footie which focuses on the movers and shakers within football...the people, the companies and brands bringing disruption to the industry.

football and business podcast

For the first edition of 7s by What The Footie Podcast, I chatted with George Benton, COO of Footium about all things web3, gaming, Chris Smalling as an angel investor, Leyton Orient and so much more!


1) On the Podcast the first question I always ask guests is “what is football to you a business or a sport and why?”

Football feels so much more than a business or a sport, more a way of life to me! I have been very passionate about football since I was young. I was a season ticket holder at Lincoln City during their non-league stint and had the luck to witness first-hand the rise under the Cowley brothers. Getting to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, visiting the Emirates and getting promotion in the same season was a dream come true. The money from the cup run funded a new training ground and propelled us all the way into League 1 where we sit today! It really transformed the whole city, not just the Football Club. Seeing the positive effect that football can have on people and even entire cities is awe-inspiring.


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2) What’s Footium’s mission & USP?

We want to create a competitive and social multiplayer football management game that is enjoyed by football fans around the globe! Our USP compared to other multiplayer football management games is that we utilise web3 tech to enable true ownership of assets for our players.

This allows them to monetise their assets, create and own a social presence as a club, and engage with the game like never before. The addition of transparent monetary prizes and a buy-in cost creates a competitive ecosystem and disincentives exploitation.


3) How does the platform work? Are you trying to be the Football Manager of the metaverse?

We are all huge FM fans, as well as spending countless hours across other football games. I wouldn’t say we are trying to be the FM of the metaverse as Footium’s multiplayer approach is a big differentiator, as well as having a much more social aspect to the game.


The player journey is very different to Football Manager, with users taking over a Metaverse Football Club. Owning the club allows players to become the owner, manager and scout for their club. With the ownership of your Footium Club's name, badge, stadium & history, many Footium Club owners have been creating brands and identities around their clubs on social media. There have been kit reveals, press conferences, line-up graphics, goal gifs & more as owners look to leverage their clubs to gain real-world fans to support them in their journey up the Footium Football League.


4) Given that Bitcoin, Ethereum, many alt-coins and NFT projects were recently at staggering lows, how do we continue to convince skeptics about all things crypto, NFTs and web3?

Crypto does go through periods of over-exuberance, particularly in price, as many novel technologies have done in the past. People see the potential of these new technologies and it causes common sense to be forgotten a bit, such as generative pictures with no utility selling for hundreds of thousands of pounds.

My advice to people who are unsure about crypto and where they should get started is to find a project that aligns with your existing interests (for example Footium if you enjoy playing football games!). Join that community, learn more about the project, and get involved with playing the game and you’ll learn a lot about crypto and the benefits it can bring through that process.


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5) Chris Smalling invested in your seed round and Nigel de Jong owns a club in the game, how satisfying/important is it to get buy-in from people within football and how did they get involved?

It is super satisfying, especially working with people who have such passion for the project! For example, Shaun Wright-Phillips has been actively playing our current beta, doing player trades with other community members and even giving Nigel de Jong a bit of banter on Twitter about his Footium Club.


In terms of importance, I think the key aspects are obviously around the branding of Footium, as well as creating cool experiences for other Footium users.


Knowing your game tomorrow is against Nigel de Jong’s Footium team is a pretty fun scenario and creates great engagement and content for our community. Generally, these opportunities come through introductions (for example, Chris was introduced by one of our investors). However, getting Shaun involved was a bit different as we saw him listening to a Twitter space around web3 and football, so decided to shoot him a dm about our project. He was happy to jump on a call and seemed to love the idea pretty quickly!


6) Footium will be Leyton Orient’s official back of shorts sponsor on all three kits for the 2022/2023 season, how did this come about and what kind of exposure/ROI are you looking to get from this sponsorship.

We knew that we wanted to sponsor an EFL league for the up-and-coming season, it was all about looking for the right partner. Both to get us in FIFA as we have some cool ideas around that (pro-clubs, goal of the month), but also with a club with rich history, a strong fan base and a commercial that is up for anything. We have been really impressed with how Leyton Orient react to trends and they have been very open to all of our ideas about what we can do together!

The exposure from sponsoring an EFL team is obviously fantastic, and we were really happy to kick the partnership off a few weeks ago. It can be a bit hard to quantify ROI for us, as it is difficult to track who found Footium because they saw it in a programme or on the advertising boards. However, partnerships like this, working with football players and the community engagement we can create around this hopefully adds to the general image and vibe of Footium as a project!


7) I always end the podcast with this question “what the footie needs to change or happen within your space”.

The biggest thing that needs to happen is a much better onboarding process for Football fans to web3. When we were doing our initial club mint back in November, most of the prospective buyers had little experience with crypto. So, we created detailed guides and walkthroughs to support them with this! Providing education and onboarding users safely and securely is really important, otherwise, it is just the same few thousand people rotating between all of these web3 games!


 

What The Footie is the football and business podcast that goes behind the scenes. From the backroom staff to the board of directors, click here to listen to the biggest agents, directors and deal-makers in the game.


Thanks for reading What The Footie 7s, a series of blog Q&As by Football and Business Podcast, What The Footie which focuses on the movers and shakers within football...the people, the companies and brands bringing disruption to the industry.


On Football and Business Podcast, What The Footie, Paul Barber, Chief Executive & Deputy Chairman at Brighton & Hove Albion FC breaks down the business of football.

football and business podcast

This week’s What The Footie Podcast is with Paul Barber, CEO at Brighton & Hove Albion FC.


In this exclusive, both Paul’s discuss Brighton’s shrewd recruitment and scouting over the years (Cucurella, Lamptey, Bissouma), how they define the role of the sporting director (David Weir stepping-up into Dan Ashworth’s role), working with Graham Potter and Hope Powell and their ambition for the upcoming Premier League season.


As well as big picture topics such as competing with new ownership models/groups (private equity and state money), does the Premier League need cost controls (salary/transfer caps), the broadcasting deals and whether it’s time for the Premier League to go direct-to-consumer (Premflix)?


In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:


1) How to build structure and strategy within a football club right from the academy to the first-team and beyond?


2) The major key behind Brighton's success.


3) Where the future of the business of football lies...private equity investors, streaming, governance and more.


What The Footie is the football and business podcast that goes behind the scenes. From the backroom staff to the board of directors, click here to listen to the biggest agents, directors and deal-makers in the game.