A lot has happened since this writer took to these pages. Manchester City FC has faced further Financial Fair Play charges, to which they will no doubt respond to as forcefully as the UEFA case. At this point, we shouldn’t lose sight that FFP itself is a corrupt, broken system. Created to keep new teams changing the old status quo. I make no apologies for stating this for the thousandth time: its proponents – or those who believe everything the agenda in the mainstream media prints – pivot away from this key point.
Manchester City’s biggest crime with FFP was trying to prove compliance within its ever-changing arbitrary rules instead of hiring lawyers to disassemble the system. FFP being removed entirely should have been the Bosman case for this generation.
With so much spotlight on Manchester City’s financial dealings, the club could do itself a few favours. A controversial area of finance is the crypto world. Often seen as the Wild West to the traditional banking system. In the United States, there is now a steady march forcing crypto companies into regulation. A catalyst for this has been the FTX scandal, and more recently, the collapse and bailout of SVB, a FinTech bank which held the real-world deposits for crypto firms.
What the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) would like to do is declare all cryptocurrencies (aside from Bitcoin, which doesn’t meet the criteria in the Howey test) a security. It should also be noted, all the concerns the SEC has surrounding crypto sounds like concern for the consumer, but the allegations about its harmful potential are nothing the traditional banking system hasn’t already done or continues to do on a daily basis. It’s about keeping control of your money.
Admittedly, the United Kingdom appears less concerned with this type of crypto clampdown, so Manchester City may feel less pressure to examine the practises of its key business partners. But they won’t be able to claim it completely blindsided them like the Mercedes F1 Team, who were quick to remove FTX sponsorship from their cars last season.
We’ve had several warnings recently that not all crypto exchanges can be trusted.
With all this fully established, Man City display OKX as one of its key sponsors. OKX’s signage is burnt into the grass at The Etihad Stadium. Its advert scrolls around the stands, claiming to be your new favourite exchange. Its logo features on every background as Pep and the players take interviews. There’s no doubt advertising works. Eventually, after months of seeing OKX on match days, I took the plunge and visited the exchange.
None of this is financial advice – let’s make that abundantly clear – in my opinion, while someone still has a mortgage, that’s a better place to put disposable income and pay it off sooner. The idea of putting money into a cryptocurrency, to me at least, is akin to putting money on a football accumulator.
At first, there wasn’t anything that grabbed this writer about OKX. But with the relentless exposure at The Etihad, I went back to the app. I appreciate this is all freewill, but as a City fan, I have a couple of simple rules regarding sponsorship: if a company has been the main shirt sponsor for Manchester United, I can’t use them ever again (which means my dream ride of a Chevrolet Matiz will forever elude me; if someone is associated with City, I give them first dibs. Which is why I buy all my fax machines from Brother.
OKX offers a high APY (the yield or return on your investment) in its Earn section. The stablecoin Tether USDT currently offers a 16% return. No savings account will get anywhere near this, and being a stablecoin it should – as the name suggest – avoid price fluctuations. They are supposed to be pegged to the associated fiat money. With Tether USDT, it’s the American dollar. These sometimes lose their peg, but that’s an article for a different day. So, converting British pounds to USDT should be no different than converting money before a holiday.
Every crypto exchange adds a degree of “slip” at the point of sale. All cryptocurrencies are volatile. In the thirty seconds it takes to process the payment, it may jump a percentage. If they say they don’t add it, they’re liars (OKX said they didn’t). You wouldn’t expect any slippage on a stablecoin. Only the movement of the dollar against pound sterling should affect the conversion.
Deciding that a little bit of savings in a stablecoin sounded too good to be true, I forgot the golden rule: if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. And this is aside from the fact all crypto kept on an exchange – “stable” or otherwise – isn’t really yours, they’ve just written an IOU that the FCA can ’t retrieve. I placed a deposit into USDT, with the sole intention of using the Earn feature.
OKX were transparent with a 2% fee – this was the last time they were open and honest regarding the transaction. There was 6% of the money missing. It was clear to see, as the value of USDT was also displayed in pound sterling. After two lengthy (because of the amount of hold time) chats on the in-app customer service, they claimed the missing money was a charge by my card issuer.
The card issuer denied this and has previously – and to this day – displays all card fees on the transactions page. Going back to OKX, I worked out that the “missing” money was because OKX added a 6% slip to USDT. 6% would be high for something like Bitcoin, it’s ridiculous for a stablecoin. The next in-app agent I spoke to agreed, and admitted this was where the money had gone. That person was the last to acknowledge the obvious. They said the relevant team would email. This never happened.
I emailed them instead. At this point, I added Manchester City to the email thread. The club should know unsavoury practises of its business partners. It was only because GBP to USD is a clearer conversion the 6% was noticed. I was using the Lite version of the app, where the slip can be added to the less experienced user without detection. On the Trading version of OKX, this couldn’t have occurred so easily. There are undoubtedly hundreds (maybe thousands?) of City fans, using the Lite version in OKX, buying a coin like Ethereum for the first time, have no idea how much £20 is represented as a fraction of that coin, and OKX takes its 2% fee and 6% slip every time.
Neither the club nor OKX responded to the email.
This week, OKX issued the same copy and paste response – they added no slippage, the card issuer took the disputed amount. This is a blatant lie. In the Wild West of the crypto world, the last thing a club like Manchester City needs is to be associated with a company that lacks transparency with its financial operations.
OKX can’t be trusted, and Manchester City shouldn’t encourage – by agreeing to a sponsorship deal – its fanbase to trade on such an opaque platform. It’s not like investigators won’t be taking a keen interest in this relationship. In addition to the aforementioned sponsorship agreement, OKX made a $20M deal to become City’s training kit sponsor. In a sense, every fan who gets hoodwinked on the exchange platform is paying for this directly out of their own pockets.
Manchester City accepted the unfairness of FFP, it shouldn’t expose supporters to the whims of a dodgy crypto exchange.