The Bitcoin Standard has many formations. For some, selling all their possessions and living off the magic money of the internet is the key; for others, it’s about sweeping every spare penny into Satoshis. For popular podcaster Peter McCormack – a football fanatic – that meant buying his local club and signing Bitcoin (BTC) to the team roster.
Bitcoin lawyer McCormack acquired his hometown football club in December 2021. He rebranded and rebranded the club as Real Bedford, and on the pitch Bitcoin is seen as payment for shirts, drinks and tickets.
But with the price of Bitcoin wallowing in the $20,000s, can the philosophy behind a falling currency transform the future of a football club? And more importantly, why has this lower league club captured the attention of bitcoin advocates around the world?
Pitchside, Cointelegraph caught up with McCormack, local fans and Bitcoiners in the first game of the season which was broadcast to hundreds of Bitcoiners around the world.
Since childhood, McCormack dreamed of buying Bedford Town, the local football club. “Bedford could support a Football League team,” he told Cointelegraph. He ended up buying the lesser local team, Bedford Football Club, who play in the Spartan South Midlands Football League.
Six leagues below the English Football League (EFL), Real Bedford’s football ladder dominates high up. McCormack jokes that playing in the Premier League is more of a sellout, at least for now. Nevertheless, while success in football is crucial for promotion, the biggest challenge currently facing the club 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 billboards surrounding the stadium, while matchday kits also feature crypto companies. However, with the Bitcoin bear market in full swing, there is a risk that these companies could be in trouble.
“At some point towards the end of the season I have to come back to them, say, look, we delivered, hopefully, hopefully, hopefully we get promoted, and everything is going very well, but I have to go back and say, okay, we have to take it to the next level. Alright, I need you to sponsor again.
Some local fans were puzzled by the Bitcoin billboards that surrounded the grounds; others made a point of asking where to get their hands on Bitcoin. Despite the bitcoin-centric approach, Cointelegraph fans spoke of valuing manager impact more than club impact putting “bitcoin at heart.” Essentially, President McCormack funded the team; it is now up to the manager to galvanize the team and inspire the athletes.
To their credit, the team had great pre-season results. Real Bedford have drawn with teams several leagues above and the team are top of the table at the time of writing.
The manager, along with some key players, transferred from local rivals Bedford Town FC ahead of the season, despite Real Bedford being two leagues lower in the English football pyramid. Additionally, McCormack jokes that there are more people attending the Bitcoin pre-game meet than on game days last season.
Building community is one of those important things for our club. We had 273 players in today’s game, a huge increase from last season.
Thank you to everyone who came out for the game, bought merchandise and supported the guys. pic.twitter.com/s5mCOXO5o2
— Real Bedford FC (@realbedford) August 6, 2022
Bitcoin Gandalf of mining company Braiins Bitcoin, who attended the match, summed up the mood:
“The fact that there are people coming from all over the UK and even Europe to watch a lower league team mainly because they are the first club to run on a bitcoin standard is testament to what a paradigm-shifting bitcoin technology.”
Attendees at the Bitcoin Meetup ranged from seasoned node runners to newcomers. A lady asked, “Who controls the mining? while some enthusiasts made their first peer-to-peer or Lightning Network transaction. Bitcoin “₿” is hard to miss at the club, while the reach of the lower league club is global. Amsterdam and Minnesota fans have bought merchandise for the lower league club.
At the clubhouse, meanwhile, Bitcoin-backed bonuses for scorers were mooted. Daniel Prince, another Bitcoin podcaster, suggested sharing player-specific Bitcoin QR codes on the live stream. This would allow bitcoin and soccer fans around the world to “tip” players in real time, such as when a player scores a goal or wins a challenge. “It’s proof of work in action,” Prince explained.
Despite McCormack’s focus on bitcoin, gamers continue to dabble in altcoins. Season’s top scorer Dan Walker told Cointelegraph he made a lot of money tinkering with ‘smart DeFi protocols’ in 2022. Admittedly, ‘Bitcoin is the future’, he explained , but he had no bitcoin on the day of the match despite his salary being paid in British pounds sterling.
Bitcoin aside, McCormack’s passion for his local town is infectious. He pours his heart and soul into the team – and vicariously into the city. The team’s football t-shirt simply reads “₿edford” – as opposed to Real Bedford – signaling plans to put their hometown on the Bitcoin world map. El Salvador has exploded onto the scene thanks to bitcoin adoption, so perhaps Bedford could ride that wave as well.
In a post-game interview, McCormack told Cointelegraph that he would much rather have a pint in the local pub than a large one in Las Vegas, and that’s Bedford, Texas any day of the week, despite Texas’ taste for bitcoin. Moreover, promotion from Real Bedford means much more to him than relegation from Tottenham Hotspur. Tottenham Hotspur, a London Premier League club, are bitter enemies and often the butt of McCormack’s jokes.
Related: Oxford City Football Club will accept Bitcoin for match day tickets
Locals also told 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 game day – most, if not all, of whom he knew by first name.
It’s shortsighted to call the team and the transition to a Bitcoin standard a success. Nonetheless, with results of 3-0 and 7-1 to kick off the season, combined with spirited Bitcoin fixtures and growing fan participation, there are encouraging signs that Bitcoin is setting the standard.