There was a time when certain celebrities couldn’t wait to get involved in the world of Non-Fungible Tokens, with many launching their own range of NFTs in the hope of raising money for their own personal cause. Former President Donald Trump did so in order to pay for his campaign for re-election, for example, whilst one chancer decided to use the image of George Floyd as a way of making money. John Terry, the former Chelsea player turned coach, also chose to get involved, using many of his Premier League contacts in order to try to flog the ‘Ape Kids Football Club’ NFTs that he had begun advertising on his social media.
In the weeks and months that followed their launch, however, their value absolutely plummeted, hitting the headlines when they were believed to be worth just 90% of their original value. That wasn’t rock bottom for the NFTs, though, and at one point they were available for as little as 99% off what they had originally sold for. Certainly part of the problem was the fact that the Premier League contacted Terry to say that the organisation’s trophy could not be used in NFTs, whilst Chelsea also let him know that the club badge was a no-go area. He was also told that trophies from the FA and UEFA couldn’t be used in the artwork.
Who Is John Terry?
It isn’t out of the realms of the possible that those of you that are interested in NFTs but not sports might not have much of an idea who John Terry actually is. Born John George Terry in Barking, Greater London, on the seventh of December 1980, Terry was part of the youth setup at West Ham United, playing in midfield. He joined Chelsea as a 14-year-old and made his way through the youth ranks and the reserve system, converting to centre-back in order to make up the shortfall in that position. He made his club debut in the League Cup against Aston Villa in the October of 1998, spending a short time on loan at Nottingham Forest.
He eventually made it into the Chelsea first-team, going on to become the rock at the back that was the basis for most of the club’s success during the 2000s. Whilst unquestionably a good footballer, there have certainly been many questions around his character over the years. In 2002, for example, he was charged with assault and affray after being involved in an altercation with a bouncer at a nightclub in West London. He was placed under police investigation over alleged racial abuse of Queens Park Rangers player Aton Ferdinand, eventually being given a four-match ban by the Football Association and a £220,000 fine.
Ape Kids Club
On the 19th of January 2022, John Terry posted a tweet that said that he was ‘signing with AKFC’, tagging in Ape Kids Club and saying that the project was launching 15 days later. He also said that he needed to ‘find some teammates’, with hundreds of people commenting on the post. Teammates soon came in the form of other footballers, both past and present, with the likes of Ashley Cole, Tammy Abraham and Jack Wilshere all giving them their backing. The Ape Kids Football Club was a series of cartoon monkeys that were wearing football kids, launched as a spin off of the Ape Kids Club, that saw baby monkeys doing things in a ‘magical world where apes rule the metaverse’.
When the project was launched, it was claimed that Terry was the driving force behind it, with the former player becoming a prominent member of the community, including talking about it on the social media app Discord and participating in Twitter Spaces discussions online. The launch proper took place on the second of February that year, with the NFTs from the Ape Kids Football Club selling for an average price of $665. It certainly helped that other footballers jumped on the bandwagon, including actively playing ones, plus the fact that the NFTs seemed to feature likenesses of the trophies that Terry won and the kits that he wore.
What Went Wrong
Within a month of the NFTs launching, news began to emerge that their value had dropped considerably. They were trading for as little as $65, whilst the footballers that had previously been so quick to promote them quietly deleting the tweets about them from the social media accounts. Part of the problem was the fact that the Premier League got in touch with Terry and informed him that any image of the Premier League trophy was in breach of intellectual copyright laws, with the same being true of images including the FA Cup and Champions League trophy. Any NFTs featuring them had to be removed, as did those that had the Chelsea badge on them.
The value of the Non-Fungible Tokens that Terry and others had been so quick to promote dropped by as much as 90%, with The Athletic publishing a piece not long after that said they had continued to lose their value by as much as 99%. It wasn’t just NFTs that were losing value in the digital asset realm, with cryptocurrency markets also seeing their worth diminish. Bitcoin had dropped 70% in comparison to its peak the previous November. The Premier League’s involvement wasn’t just about protecting its intellectual property, with the English top-flight also gearing up to launch NFTs of its own and keen to look after their value.
The Ape Kids Football Club, meanwhile, was re-branded as ‘Inter Meta FC’, which John Terry quickly endorsed. This was in spite of the fact that Inter Meta FC said that it had ‘no affiliation with John Terry or any professional footballers’. Anyone who held an Ape Kids Football Club token was able to use it for a 1:1 version of the Inter Meta FC token so that the organisation responsible for them could show its ‘loyalty’ and ‘appreciation’. Quite what the future of the market will look like remains to be seen, though there is little doubt that John Terry’s association with Ape Kids Football Club wasn’t a helpful one and his help with Inter Meta FC might not be all that welcome.