The Real Bedford football team, donned in bright orange jerseys adorned with a skull and crossbones, entered the field amidst the blaring anthem of “Know Your Enemy” by the U.S. rap metal band Rage Against the Machine. The raucous atmosphere set the stage for a first-round cup game, marking the journey of the world’s first Bitcoin-funded football team. Based in Bedford, a market town in Bedfordshire, England, Real Bedford is the brainchild of local owner and Bitcoin enthusiast Peter McCormack.
McCormack, the host of the “What Bitcoin Did” podcast, a show that promotes Bitcoin as a solution to socioeconomic issues like inflation and state debt, passionately spoke about the club’s transformation under his ownership and the integral role of Bitcoin in this evolution.
“Teams should care about something,” he emphasized. “Every club has a history, a connection to its community.” McCormack’s ownership brought the global and decentralized philosophy of Bitcoin to Real Bedford—a philosophy centered on supporting hardworking individuals who don’t want the fruits of their labor eroded by government monetary mismanagement.
However, reliance on cryptocurrency introduces its own set of complexities, including market volatility and industry turmoil beyond McCormack’s control.
Bitcoin and the Bear Market:
McCormack acquired Real Bedford (formerly known as Bedford FC) in April 2022, backed by various Bitcoin-related business ventures. He aimed to elevate the club nine tiers up to the Premier League, the pinnacle of English football, with Bitcoin-backed financing. The purchase process began in December 2021, near the peak of the previous crypto bull market. However, events took a turn when the U.S. Federal Reserve started raising interest rates in March 2022. Subsequently, the Terra-Luna stablecoin platform collapsed in May, followed by the FTX cryptocurrency exchange in November. A bearish sentiment engulfed the crypto industry as investors shied away from risky assets, including Bitcoin, causing prices to plummet. From a high of nearly $70,000, Bitcoin’s price plummeted to less than $16,000 by the end of 2022.
While it made a partial recovery to hover around $26,000 as of early September, experts anticipate that macroeconomic concerns will continue to weigh on the token’s price in the short term.
For McCormack, Bitcoin’s price fluctuations aren’t a significant concern. He believes that the pound and the UK’s economy are more vulnerable to volatility due to the government’s debt burden. However, he acknowledges the importance of achieving stability beyond reliance on Bitcoin-backed sponsors.
Local Engagement and Community Building:
Real Bedford distinguishes itself by its strong ties to the local community. McCormack’s connection to the area gives the club an advantage over other ownership models backed by digital assets. He believes that the town of Bedford should have a team in the Football League, emphasizing the importance of preserving the club’s local identity.
Real Bedford’s branding as “The Pirates” incorporates skulls and a rock-n-roll vibe. This distinct identity extends to their matchday experience, which features heavy metal music and vibrant fan engagement. McCormack’s vision includes connecting with the local community through initiatives such as youth and women’s football. He sees women’s football as a growth market for the club, having recently merged with Bedford Ladies and Girls FC to expand its presence.
Navigating the Bitcoin Bear Market:
While Real Bedford has enjoyed considerable success, the club’s ownership model relies on Bitcoin-affiliated sponsors who may be affected by the ongoing bear market. Bitcoin-backed sponsors have provided a significant portion of the club’s revenue, allowing it to make substantial improvements.
However, with the crypto industry facing challenges such as layoffs and declining sponsorships due to market volatility, the club’s growth strategy is under scrutiny. Achieving stability beyond Bitcoin-backed sponsors becomes crucial for sustainable growth.
Real Bedford’s journey as the world’s first Bitcoin-funded football team continues, navigating both the football and cryptocurrency landscapes. Despite the market’s ups and downs, McCormack remains committed to building a strong community around the club and achieving success on the pitch. As they say in football, winning games remains the top priority, irrespective of where the financing originates.