A group of U.S. cryptocurrency investors, including Philadelphia 76ers' president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, have completed a takeover of English fourth-tier club Crawley Town, currently 13th in League Two.
WAGMI United, led by co-founders Preston Johnson -- a former ESPN gambling analyst -- and Eben Smith -- a former derivatives trader -- last year failed in a bid to buy fellow English Football League club Bradford City, when they planned to rely on non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as a significant source of funding.
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Along with Morey, the group also includes businessman Gary Vaynerchuk and TikTok personality Bryce Hall.
They have promised to bring a "new era of unprecedented transparency and accountability" to Crawley.
"Crawley Town Football Club is a club with more than 125 years of rich history that we revere and respect," Johnson said in a club statement announcing the takeover. "However, a conventional approach to ownership hasn't worked, and the club is losing hundreds of thousands of pounds while its fans suffer through year after year of uninspiring results on the pitch."
"We think the club can do better and our fans deserve better. Sports are supposed to be fun and bring communities together. At Crawley Town, we're going to shake up the status quo, try out some new ideas, and build a worldwide community of fans new and old that can be excited to cheer on the Red Devils together -- stretching from West Sussex to anywhere in the world with an internet connection."
According to a report from The Washington Post last year, the group plans to use revenue from NFTs "to invest in analytics and outspend opponents to quickly climb the EFL ladder" and ultimately reach the Premier League.
Both Johnson and Smith will assume roles as club directors but have pledged to empower Crawley's supporters to have a say in whether they should continue in those positions for the long term.
If the team fails to earn promotion to League One at the end of next season, a prospect the group describes as "50-50," they say they will allow the fans to vote on whether they keep their jobs.
"If we underperform, Crawley Town fans should get to vote on who the next directors of the club are," Smith said.
Crawley's first-team manager John Yems welcomed the move, while paying tribute to previous board members, Ziya Eren, Erdem Konyar, Emre Eren and Nuhkan Ruzgar, who have all now left the club.
"This is an exciting time for the club," Yems said. "Let's hope that we can continue the good progress we have made and take the club forward. I would also like to place on record a thank you to the previous owners. They gave me the opportunity to manage the football club, and I wish them all the best for the future."
Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed.