Bad News for Tron is a Good Sign for Cryptocurrency as Football Comes Calling

Tron (TRX) CEO and founder, Justin Sun, tweeted out a video earlier this week showing what appeared to be a business invitation from Liverpool Football Club – the team currently atop the English Premier League.

Sun immediately hinted at an “official partnership”, and promised more details soon. The cryptocurrency news media then picked up the story and ran with it, and suddenly the improbable idea of Tron partnering with Liverpool seemed to have some legs.

But when a Liverpool press officer responded to the suggestion of a Tron partnership with the reply: “Who?”, the hype soon cooled. A a few days later the CEOs of Kraken and Binance posted similar invitations, and the picture regarding Liverpool FC’s foray into the cryptocurrency space became clearer.

Liverpool Keeping Up to Speed With Blockchain Technology

According to a club spokesperson, the invitations were sent out to many companies as Liverpool FC attempts to keep up with the latest technological developments. The goal was not to initiate discussions or negotiations with Justin Sun, but rather to learn about his industry.

The Liverpool FC press officer told journalists:

“We do regularly engage with lots of companies to better understand their business and we have extended an invitation to Tron—along with many others. To be clear, no discussions have taken place.”

Many have taken this as an opportunity to bash Justin Sun for what they deem was another lie, but in fairness, there could easily have been some genuine confusion. What’s more interesting here is that a two billion dollar footballing brand is showing interest in cryptocurrency at all, let alone Justin Sun.

How much Liverpool know about Sun, Tron, CZ, Binance or Kraken is unclear, but their offering of invitations to these figures is surely a sign of general trust in the broader industry. It’s hard to imagine these invitations being sent out just a few years ago, or even as recently as 2017-2018 during the ICO boom.

This year already we’ve seen other Premier League clubs like Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers adopt cryptocurrency-based sponsors (eToro and Coindeal). Just recently Scottish club Ayr United announced a sponsorship deal with Bitcoin SV.

A follow-up letter received by Kraken CEO Jesse Powell shows very sales-focused language from Liverpool’s international director of business development, Jonathan Kane. A sign that a possible sponsorship deal really is somewhere down the road?

Is Binance a Special Case? Differences with Tron Invite

Despite the insistence by Liverpool’s press officer that no partnerships were imminent, there is a notable difference between the invites received by Justin Sun and Changpeng Zhao.

Sun’s invite was addressed to ‘Vanessa’ – presumably Vanessa Cao, director of marketing and communications at Tron. Meanwhile, CZ’s invite was addressed directly to ‘Mr Zhao’.

Powell and Sun’s correspondence was handled by Jonathan Kane – the football club’s director of business development. However, CZ’s invite was handwritten by ‘Marcel’ – presumably Marcel Weigmann, the partnership development manager at Liverpool.

Whereas Kane told reporters the club’s only aim was to learn about new technologies, CZ’s letter very clearly asked to ‘discuss partnership opportunities’, and referenced ‘commercial returns’ from a future sponsorship deal. Are these differences substantial? Or is it just the sign of two staff members at Liverpool sharing similar duties?

Given the same gushing, sales-type language on display in Powell’s letter, it’s probably reasonable to suggest that Liverpool are seeking to draw some of the richest players in crypto into one room, with the goal of having them bid against each other for the honor of sponsoring the club in some way.

That shouldn’t be read as anti-climactic, but rather as a sign that long-established institutions are starting to treat cryptocurrency as they would any other business.

Disclaimer: The author owns Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

 Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Greg Thomson is a freelance writer who contributes to leading cryptocurrency and blockchain publications like CCN, Hacked, and others.