Adrian Docea is collecting email addresses for his company’s app launch in an effort to harness one of the greatest sources of energy on Earth: the power of football fans.
“Football is not only the biggest sport in the world, it’s the biggest sport in the world,” Docea said. “It’s the only thing on the planet with 4 billion followers.”
His company, Nordensa, is a platform where fans can place long-term bets on players, especially undiscovered ones.
It bears some resemblance to the “Athlete Stock Market” Mojo, backed by Alex Rodriguez, in which people can buy shares of NFL players that rise or fall based on their performance on the field, but with one twist. different.
Transfers between clubs will be crowdfunded, minimizing risk for teams and earning profits for participating fans when players succeed.
Nordensa’s calling card is that it works directly with the transfer market, which is set to change hands for $6.5 billion in 2022.
The company hopes to capitalize on an untapped niche: promising non-European players.
The top teams, mainly from Europe, scout mainly on the continent, where it is easier to find players with the European cultural skills and comfort to succeed in the Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A or Ligue 1.
Last year’s global player transfer figures released by FIFA on Thursday showed a thriving market for players. Most of the action takes place within continents, but a significant amount of business is conducted between continents.
- Of the 20,209 international transfers in men’s professional football in the leagues covered by FIFA, almost half (9,369) took place in Europe.
- Another 4,056 were intercontinental transfers in other regions.
- European teams brought in 2,511 players from other continents, led by South America (901 players, $388.2 million in total) and Africa (759, $52.9 million).
A scan of Premier League transfers in 2022 bears this out in particular: Fewer than 10 transfers to Premier League teams came from outside Europe last year.
“If you’re a young player in Bolivia or Ghana, chances are scouts from Liverpool, Arsenal or Bayern Munich won’t simply land in your backyard and see how good you are,” Docea explained.
Of the more than 1,000 professional football teams in Europe, only a fraction have significant scouting operations in other countries, leading to a large blind spot in the global talent search.
Crowdfunding transfers is a way of getting fans to invest more and giving players an opportunity who might otherwise have to quit football for more reliable salaries.
“A lot of gifted kids give up on soccer before they really have a chance to shine,” Docea said. “I think it’s the worst news for football: some of the greatest stars in the world, whose names we’ll never know.”
Nordensa identifies talent by using scouting software from third-party video game data providers in its target regions, namely South America and Africa. Players are judged on about 60 metrics to create a pool of potential recruits.
The company works with scouts from the Premier League, Bundesliga and other top leagues to further investigate outstanding players.
Once a player has been selected for development, Nordensa will link that player’s squad with possible interested clubs in Europe. If the two clubs agree, crowdfunding enters the equation.
Investments in players are solicited on the platform and are mainly used towards their salaries for a year.
Docea’s rationale for most European clubs is that “it’s pretty cheap to get a player from the village next door, but it’s really expensive to pay for a Colombian player for a year, and he might not be fit, and then you’re wasting money.” A lot of money just to test a young player.
“That’s exactly the niche we’re trying to fill.”
Nordensa hopes to leverage the kind of rewards systems familiar to fantasy sports and sportsbooks.
If a player renews with a club or agrees a deal with another European team, those who financed his first year will get their money back, plus 3% of the player’s future earnings.
Nordensa will charge 3 percent, plus additional costs for the club, but the player is only paid by the club that employs him.
A shrewd choice can pay off handsomely: Docea estimates that if a player signs a professional contract in the first year after a Nordensa-funded transfer, his investors will get double their money.
Players can earn four to five times their investment if they end up in Serie A or the Bundesliga – and 10 times if they go to the Premier League. If they don’t sign the deal, investors won’t see any returns.
With football and legal sports betting taking off in the U.S., capitalizing on sports fans who don’t mind taking some risk and enjoy gobbling up data to inform their bets is looking increasingly promising.
A new way of betting?
The platform has not yet launched, but Nordensa is collecting the names of interested users on its waitlist.
They also allegedly have “big plans with MLS” in the coming months.
An estimated $35 billion is bet on the 2022 World Cup. Enthusiasm for sports betting will only intensify as America finally gets a taste of it. But each of those bets is a contract between a person and a sports betting company, and the broad implications will be to make a small group of companies rich.
Ultimately, Nordensa could function like sports betting — likely with a more pro-social angle. The question is how many of those 4 billion fans they can support.