NFT CULTURE interview with:
Gwyneth Glascodine, CEO Futera
Adam Partington, Community Manager Futera
Abby Mansfield, Co-founder and Artist at Top Dog Beach Club
Can you give us some background to the Company – who and what is Futera?
Gwyneth: Sure… Futera is a 32 year brand founded in Australia producing Officially Licensed trading card collections for Baseball, Basketball, Cricket, Rugby, Soccer, soccer… you name it, they did it!
In the mid 1990s, the company extended operations to Europe securing licenses with 12 English Premier League Clubs (including Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City) with today’s portfolio including FC Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.
Whilst the Futera brand is synonymous with high-end sports cards featuring player autographs, game-used memorabilia, 24ct gold plated cards, porcelain, crystal and diamonds, we entered the virtual space as far back as 2008 with digital cards and an online soccer card game.
We then turned the online game into reality creating a ‘world first’ with a real Professional Soccer Team being managed live by fans from their computers. They’d vote on tactics such as playing style, formation, substitutes as the game played out on the pitch. We reached 4th place in our division, so the model enjoyed some success!
This wasn’t a commercial exercise – we wanted to explore bridging the gap between a real soccer game and the virtual world because no-one had done it before, and it was fun!
Over the past 10 years, we’ve developed operations across China and SE Asia, with the US becoming an increasingly strong market for Futera cards.
In addition to being a sports card publisher, Futera is an ambassador for women’s soccer hosting Stadium Tournaments in SE Asia for the girls/women’s game.
We’ve also extended the Futera brand to sports apparel specializing in soccer teamwear, of course including womens’ kits!
Jumping to today and NFTs… it made sense that we put together an NFT programme cherry-picking some of the highlights from our brand’s history to create something unique for collectors and fans.
Abby and the guys from Top Dog Beach Club are helping us through the process of minting and the rest of the NFT technicalities. We spoke to a few teams who were already in this space, and many were impressive, but we just loved what Top Dog Beach Club have done and we knew they were the right fit for us. The way that they have created their community and the value they provide is unmatched.
So what is a Futera United NFT?
Adam: FUTERA UNITED NFTs are soccer cards featuring men and women players with some interesting subset teams (think Vampires, Aliens…). Each card is unique, with players featuring different traits such as hairstyles, kits, accessories, etc. inspired by trends through 100 years of soccer.
In addition to getting a rare NFT collectible, holders become part of an online community which will create and run a real Soccer Club, voting on key decisions from team logo, kit design, player selection. Games will be streamed live, with the community voting on tactics as the game plays out.
And whether or not the project sells out, the Club will be built. So if we sell just one NFT – even to my Mum who’s a tactical genius and would give Alex Ferguson a run for his money – the Club will start its journey from day one!
The project has an exciting Roadmap featuring real-world & metaverse experiences, gamification, storification, competitions & prizes, charity donations, a merch online store and more.
‘Famous Fans’ from the sport and entertainment sector such as FIFA streamer Bateson87 (1.46m YouTube subscribers) are adding to the attention the project is attracting from around the world, It’s already been featured by Forbes and ONE37pm.
You said that you waited for quite some time before going into the NFT space, you didn’t just jump in for a quick cash-grab..
Gwyneth: We’ve seen quite a few trading card and even sports celebrity NFTs launch and quickly become yesterday’s news… We really weren’t too excited about NFTs to begin with – we felt there had to be more to it than just buying a card.
We wanted the buyer to enjoy something beyond just a card purchase, with interactive experiences between the virtual and physical world, and that would capture the imagination of sports fans worldwide.
Looking at community-building, Top Dog and Futera are partnering together. Tell us a bit about that.
Abby: We’d had our Launchpad as part of our roadmap, and having received so many applications we’ve had to wade through so many excellent ideas and could only pick out the ones we feel were the best and were going to succeed.
The community element is something I really love about Futera’s project and that they’re going to be creating a real Soccer Team. This isn’t just part of their roadmap, they’re going to be doing this regardless of how many NFTs they sell. They’ve got the resources, they’ve got the experience with collectibles, they’ve got an amazing team.
Why will this work? Won’t it take a long time to get off the ground?
Gwyneth: I’m sure many scratch their heads and question if what we’re doing is possible.
We’ve already worked through the regulatory aspects, obstacles, costs and understand the model… These things are complex and can take months, even years to navigate, whereas we’re already lined up with the grounds, stadium and players ready for selection by the online community. As Adam said, we’re all ready to go from the purchase of the first NFT- even if that is by his Mum!
Why can you not just buy a Club?
Adam: It’s easy to think you can buy a Club and ‘press play’… but it’s so much more than just paying money. Most soccer clubs, especially in Britain, have been around for over 100 years. They are institutions. They’re embedded in their local communities.
Simply paying money to take over an existing Club, then giving rights to a huge number of people (many of whom won’t actually be fans) to make decisions about the Club may not go down too well with the Club’s existing management structure and fanbase.
An example is Cardiff City. The club had always worn a blue kit, but it was changed to red by a new owner – a season later the fans succeeded in having the blue kit reinstated.
I guess that to an investor, the club is an investment, but to a fan the club symbolizes their memories, their families, a big part of their lives.
Situations where initiatives like ours have been successful in the UK have been when they’ve been built from scratch – examples being Hashtag United and SE Dons in the UK which were built with a community in mind. Or as Roman Abramovich has shown, you can put in money and step back – that’s feasible.
Put simply, to run a soccer club successfully, you need to understand the game as well as the soccer culture. For our NFT project, we felt it would be more productive to start a club from scratch with the team and fans making the journey together.
Abby: I think with buying a Club, the impact that an individual or community can have is going to be quite limited, whereas when you’re building it from the ground up like Futera are doing, there’s just something genuine about it, something exciting which kind of feeds into the whole NFT space. I can’t wait to see where this goes.
You mentioned your support for the women’s game
Gwyneth: It’s been really exciting to see the development of women’s soccer around the world particularly over the past year. The FUTERA UNITED NFT will feature women’s cards, and we hope to attract women around the world to be part of the Club’s community experience.
Actually, this year we’ve been able to include women’s FC Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal FC football cards in the Club collections.
Abby: Keep an eye on what Futera are doing to represent women in the space because they’re the only Trading Card Company in the world with a female CEO!
A significant number of the FUTERA UNITED cards are going to be women, and I don’t think that’s something that’s been done before, so they’re really trying to make a difference in this space and for women’s football as well.
Are there any mechanics we should know about?
In line with normal trading card mechanics, there will be ‘chase’ elements such as rare subset teams like Zombies, Vampires and Aliens plus redemptions for free merch and other goodies.
We’ll be posting our White Paper on the website soon, so check us out at www.futeraunited.com
What is the FUTERA UNITED NFT launch date?
Adam: It’s scheduled for some time in January. We’re waiting for the right conditions, adding a few more whistles and bells to be in place for the community. We feel it’s better to take our time and get things right. There’s a lot to this project, and we want to ensure that it’s properly executed.
Abby: When Top Dog first launched a few months ago, there was an element of urgency to get out and sell out immediately otherwise people may think you’re a failure. I think Top Dog has proved that that’s not the case; we took a few days to sell out, a slow burn, and that’s what seems to work now and what people value. Now launch announcements are more around ‘when the time is right’, and I think the community can appreciate that.
What will the price be?
Why is that price fair?
Adam: As we’ve mentioned, a FUTERA UNITED NFT is more than just a rare collectible. When you become part of our community, you get to vote on the decisions that will propel Futera United on its journey. On top of that, there will be gamification and storification elements too. Your NFT ‘character’ will take on a life of its own in the Metaverse. You’ll monitor its career and how it interacts with others along the way. You’ll get exclusive access to super-rare physical cards and charity initiatives that will feature as part of the offering to our NFT owners, it’s really exciting.
Having been in the physical collectibles space for over 3 decades, there’s also an inherent value associated with the brand, expertise in the core mechanics of how trading cards work in the secondary market, as well as proven longevity of the company, all of which may be considerations for buyers.
With all that in mind, we think it’s a fair price…
What is the Mint size? 7,700
Last question – do you love Ted Lasso?
You can find more about the project here:
Forbes article: https://www.forbes.com/sites/daveknox/2021/10/27/how-futera-plans-to-use-nfts-to-build-a-soccer-team-from-the-ground-up/?sh=402544fd20f9
ONE37pm article: https://www.one37pm.com/strength/sports/futera-nft-proper-soccer