The Bitcoin Standard has many formations. For some, selling all possessions and living off magic internet money is key; for others, it’s about sweeping every spare penny into Satoshis. For popular podcaster Peter McCormack–an avid football fan–it meant buying his local club and signing Bitcoin (BTC) onto the team sheet.
Bitcoin advocate McCormack acquired his hometown football club in December 2021. He renamed and rebranded the club to Real Bedford, and at the ground, Bitcoin qualifies as payment for shirts, drinks and tickets.
But with the price of Bitcoin wallowing in the $20,000s, can the ethos behind a falling currency transform a football club’s future? And more importantly, why has this lower league club caught the attention of Bitcoin advocates around the world?
Pitchside, Cointelegraph caught up with McCormack, local fans and Bitcoiners on the first match of the season which was streamed to hundreds of Bitcoiners around the world.
Ever since he was a boy, McCormack dreamed of buying Bedford Town, the local football club. “Bedford could support a team in the Fooball League,” he told Cointelegraph. He ended up buying the lesser local team, Bedford Football Club which plays in the Spartan South Midlands Football League.
At six leagues below the English Football League (EFL), the footballing ladder for Real Bedford towers high above. McCormack jokes that playing in the Premier League is more of a wind-up–at least for now. Nonetheless, while footballing achievement is crucial for promotion, the biggest challenge the club currently faces is that “the team’s sponsors are Bitcoin companies.”
In somewhat surreal scenes, adverts for Bitcoin-friendly brands including Casa, Gemini and Compass Mining plaster the billboards surrounding the stadium, while match day kits also feature crypto companies. However, with the Bitcoin bear market in full swing, there’s a risk these companies are in trouble.
“At some point towards the end of the season, I need to go back to them, say, look, we delivered, hopefully, hopefully, hopefully we’re promoted, and it’s all going very well, but I need to go back and say, okay, we need to go to the next level. Okay, I need you to sponsor again.”
Some local fans were bemused by billboard Bitcoin advertisements that enclosed the pitch; others were keen to ask where to get their hands on Bitcoin. Despite the Bitcoin-centric approach, fans Cointelegraph spoke to place greater weight on the manager’s impact than the impact of the club putting “bitcoin at heart.” In essence, Chairman McCormack has financed the team; now it’s time for the manager to galvanize the team and inspire the athletes.
To their credit, the team has enjoyed excellent pre-season results. Real Bedford drew with teams several leagues above and the squad is top of the league table at the time of writing.
The manager, as well as some key players, transferred from local rivals Bedford Town FC before the season, despite that Real Bedford sits two leagues lower down the English footballing pyramid. Plus, McCormack jokes there are more people attending the pregame Bitcoin meetup than attending match days last season.
Building a community is one of those important things for our club. We had 273 at the game today, a huge increase on last season.
Thank you to everyone who came out for the game, bought merchandise and supported the lads. pic.twitter.com/s5mCOXO5o2
— Real Bedford FC (@realbedford) August 6, 2022
Bitcoin Gandalf of Braiins Bitcoin mining company, who attended the game, summed up the atmosphere:
“The fact that there are people coming from all around the U.K. and even Europe to watch a lower league team primarily because they are the first club to run on a Bitcoin standard is a testament to what a paradigm-shifting technology Bitcoin is.”
Bitcoin meetup participants varied from seasoned node runners to newcomers. One lady asked, “Who controls mining?” while some enthusiasts performed their first peer-to-peer or Lightning Network transaction. The Bitcoin “₿” is hard to miss at the club, while the reach of the lower tier league club is global. Fans in Amsterdam and Minnesota have bought merchandise for the lower league club.
At the clubhouse, meanwhile, Bitcoin-backed bonuses for goalscorers were brought up. Daniel Prince, a fellow Bitcoin podcaster, suggested sharing Bitcoin QR codes specific to players on the live stream. It would allow Bitcoin and football fans around the world to “tip” players in real-time–say when a player scores a goal or wins a challenge. “It’s proof-of-work in action,” Prince explained.
Despite McCormack’s Bitcoin-first focus, players still dabble in altcoins. The season’s top goal scorer, Dan Walker, told Cointelegraph that he made good money tinkering with “smart DeFi protocols” in 2022. Granted, “Bitcoin is the future,” he explained, but he didn’t have any Bitcoin on match day while his salary is paid in Great British pounds sterling.
Bitcoin aside, the passion McCormack harbors for his local town is infectious. He pours his heart and soul into the team–and by proxy the town. The team’s football t-shirt merely says “₿edford” — as opposed to Real Bedford — signaling the intention to put his hometown on the Bitcoin world map. El Salvador exploded onto the scene by way of Bitcoin adoption, so maybe Bedford could also ride that wave.
In a post-match interview, McCormack told Cointelegraph he would much rather have a pint in the local pub than a big one in Las Vegas, and it’s Bedford over Texas every day of the week, despite Texas’ taste for Bitcoin. Plus, Real Bedford’s promotion means far more to him than Tottenham Hotspur’s relegation. Tottenham Hotspur, a London Premier League club, are staunch enemies and often the butt of McCormack’s jokes.
Locals also commented to Cointelegraph that there’s more to McCormack’s character than magic internet money: He’s the first to lend a hand and support the community. True to form, McCormack could be found handing out drinks, wiping down tables and greeting fans on match day — most if not all of whom he knew on a first-name basis.
It’s short-sighted to call the team and the transition to a Bitcoin Standard a success. Nonetheless, with 3-0 and 7-1 results to kick the season off, combined with lively Bitcoin meetups and a growing turnout of fans, there are encouraging signs that Bitcoin is setting the standard.