Digital collectibles explained

Thursday 17 November 2022 16:00

Welcome to our first instalment on the future of Web3 in football.

From travelling back to the 1990s, for a deep dive into the history of the internet, to the intricacies of blockchain technology, we’re here to guide you into the world of Web3.  

Manchester United's first digital collectibles are coming – a gift to fans around the world for their support. But what are they? And why are they much more than “just a picture on the internet”?

Digital collectibles, also known as Non-fungible Tokens (NFTs), are digital certificates that identify the owner of a virtual item, as well as providing a history log of all of its past owners.

FUNGIBLE = Interchangeable (think Marcus Rashford shirts from United Direct)
NON-FUNGIBLE = Unique (the actual Rashford)
TOKEN = The data that’s tracked on a blockchain (think Rashford’s DNA)

Every NFT is made up of data recorded and stored on the blockchain, and because each one is totally different from the next, it cannot be exchanged for another. 

This may sound like a strange concept, but you already use non-fungible items whenever you visit a football match: match tickets. Each one is printed with your name and its own unique barcode. NFTs take that same concept and make it digital. Like United, they’re one-of-a-kind.
Hang on, I thought NFTs and digital collectibles were cool cat GIFs or digital trainers selling for thousands of pounds?

They can be. But cut through the hype, and NFTs are extremely versatile. By providing verification of ownership over a digital asset, the technology opens up a lot of useful and exciting possibilities.

Additionally, because each NFT is unique, they can be genuinely rare, and just like in the physical world, the rarer something is, the more valuable (emotionally or financially) it can be to a collector.
Surely a JPEG can’t be that valuable?

Before NFTs came onto the scene, there was nothing to stop you from saving a digital file like a JPEG with the right-click of your mouse, swiping it from Google and calling it your own. That file is effectively valueless. With NFTs, the value lies in the token behind the file - your proof of authenticity and ownership. NFTs allow digital products to share similarities with physical, real-world items, unlocking the concept of digital collecting.

What is blockchain?


Want to learn more about the building blocks of Web3 and what it all means for United fans? Step this way.

What’s so special about digital collectibles, compared to physical objects?

Humans have always been collectors; items that are valuable, keepsakes, or treasured memories that we hold on to because they mean something to us. This is especially true in sport. 

Think of all those matchday programmes you’ve saved over the years, the United scarves and ticket stubs, the football stickers you traded with your friends when you were a kid, or that signed shirt you’ve held on to since ‘99.

Digital collectibles are the same concept, except rather than gathering dust on the shelf or falling out of scrapbooks, they’re preserved forever on the blockchain. They’re changing the game for sports fans around the world, because not only are digital keepsakes a fun way to support your team and celebrate your favourite players, they can also come loaded with exclusive benefits. 

Your digital collectible can bring you closer to the action, to your football heroes and the sport you love. These digital collectibles have the potential to unlock discounts, rewards, exclusive content, and even allow you to redeem a new collectible when United lift a trophy. It can reward you for simply doing what you’ve always done - supporting your club.

Discover Web3


We take a look at how the next era of the internet could enable United fans to feel even closer to the club.

You had me at rewards. What kind of perks are we talking?

You could own digital collectibles that depict iconic moments in sporting history, whether it’s cup-winning goals, or Sir Alex Ferguson walking out for his farewell match at Old Trafford. Each slice of Manchester United history could be yours to trade, collect or sell whenever you want.

Scoring yourself a hyper-rare digital product or moment in history could then grant you access to never-before-seen club content, physical products or even meet-and-greets with players. 

And because Web3 allows you to seamlessly use digital collectibles across other digital platforms, they could unlock access to exclusive communities, such as collectible holder-only channels on Manchester United’s new Discord. Who knows? Maybe once you’re there you can chat with players, be the first to hear about new collectibles and shape the Club’s digital future.
Sign me up! How do I get a digital collectible?

You don’t need to be a crypto ultra to get your first digital collectible. United fans around the world can claim the Club’s first official collectible as a gift. 

We’re working closely with our blockchain partner Tezos right now to take our beautiful game into exciting new territory. 

Ready to dive into the future? Click here to register for updates on digital collectibles.