Did a crypto company just buy Spanish football club Elche?

28 Dec, 2018 | Updated: 05 Feb, 2019
by Alberto Arnaldo
Did a crypto company just buy Spanish football club Elche?

Many cryptocurrency and sports media are referring to the acquisition of Elche CF by crypto firm Libereum. However, the club has denied it, while Libereum stands by its press release announcing the acquisition of the Spanish football club. Chepicap talked with Cem Kumlar, CEO of Libereum, to clarify the contradictory communications.

 Elche CF is an important classic contender of Spanish football, currently holding the 15th spot on the second division. In recent times, they have been battling against debt and budgetary issues, after the club experienced an administrative descend from the first division in 2015 due to their economic weakeness. Jose Sepulcre, former president between 2006 and 2015 and one of the largest shareholders, is blamed by many supporters of the poor financial state of the club.

Sepulcre was arrested in June of 2018 and indicted for money laundering and other charges in the frame of a legal battle started by a platform of supporters, and has recently been exonerated from the charges.

Chepicap tried to contact Elche CF via phone and email, to no effect in so far. This article will be updated with their version in case a reply arrives.

Chepicap has also reviewed documental evidence of the existence of a signed contract between Libereum and one of the club´s shareholders, accounting for the acquisition of 64% of Elche´s shares, percentage calculated prior to the latest capital increases. The contract has an official notary stamp, corresponding to a legally registered notary in Valencia, Spain. Due to privacy requirements, the identity of the shareholder cannot be disclosed publicly.

Libereum base their strategy in using funds raised via an ICO to purchase football clubs, such as the Dutch second division Roda JC. Then, they expect to create their own demand for Liber tokens by establishing them as the payment method in stadiums and for merchandise, extending later their use to pay for transfers or for sponsorship agreements. 

The first news about the acquisition came from Libereum, in the form of a press release on the 26th of December. The Dutch crypto firm announced their purchase of Elche Club de Fútbol, with a first down payment of €4.3 million towards a final amount of €20 million, as reported by local Spanish media vozpopuli.com

One day later, on the 27th of December, Elche CF released a (now removed) official statement denying the acquisition of the club. A translation follows here:

Elche Club de Fútbol, in reply to certain information published, wants to STRONGLY DENY the sale of the Club to any company dedicated to cryptocurrency or to any other activity. In this way, the Club wants to settle the rumors that have occurred due to the different reports that may disturb and lead to confusion among fans.

Finally, today, December 28th, Elche CF published another official statement, announcing a capital increase of about €4.8 million, a decision taken after two extraordinary shareholders assemblies celebrated on the 25th of October and on the 21st of December. 

Chepicap spoke with Libereum CEO Cem Kumlar in order to clarify the contradicting press statements. Kumlar stated that the expresident of Elche CF and largest shareholder of the club according to media reports, José Sepulcre Coves, also known as Pepe Sepulcre, was involved in the denial of the operation via his influence on the current managing team. Kumlar also mentioned that their original plans included taking over in person from Spain, during next week, which he still expects to do soon.

A message coming from someone using the nickname Pepe Sepulcre appeared today on Libereum´s Telegram channel. In it, the former president of the club seemed to confirm the transaction. However, it remains unclear if the identity of the sender is real. Chepicap tried to contact Sepulcre and received the following message: “You can contact my office from the 7th of January. Greetings.”. When Chepicap replied requesting contact details, no answer was obtained. The user joined the group only 24 hours ago. The message send by the alleged Sepulcre account reads as follows:

Even though it appears as if the club has been hiding information when they straight out denied the purchase of the club, a Medium post has also questioned the role of Libereum in the operation, citing what the author deems as weaknesses in their whitepaper and team. Thus, it seems as if only time will show the outcome of this impasse.

Read more: Crypto project in talks to buy Spanish, Dutch, Korean soccer clubs, targets top 10Portuguese football club considers launching ICO

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