The owner of a top-tier Australian football club has walked away from buyout negotiations with a controversial cryptocurrency company.
Owner Tony Sage confirmed Monday a deal to sell 80 percent of the equity in Perth Glory FC to the London Football Exchange (LFE) had been scrapped, according to Australian news source The New Daily.
LFE is an exchange, built on the blockchain, designed to allow supporters to trade equity in their favorite clubs. It’s understood LFE does not yet hold equity in any football club, and the Perth deal was to be its first-ever acquisition.
Perth Glory confirmed it had entered an “asset sale and purchase agreement” with LFE in early February. In early January, Sage had been announced as the new LFE chairman to start on March 1.
At the time, LFE CEO Jim Aylward had called the agreement the “cherry on the cake.” He told followers on Twitter: “We are building a football group that is going to lead to a tokenized ecosystem, so there is going to be utility for the token.”
However, there have been concerns over the deal and LFE’s background.
An investigation by Australian radio station 6PR earlier this week alleged Aylward is actually James Abbass Biniaz, a convicted fraudster who attempted to defraud the U.K. tax office of £98,000 (roughly $126,000). He was sentenced to a 22-month prison sentence in 2010. Aylward reportedly did not deny the claim when asked by the station.
6PR also reported LFE faces a $2.2 million court case brought by a Turkmenistani oil trader who claims the token firm used fraudulent information to persuade him to make a loan to the company.
LFE had previously entered talks to purchase equity in FC Nantes two years ago, but this fell through when the French Club concluded the company’s “seriousness and credibility” could not be guaranteed.
Confessing to being new to cryptocurrencies, Sage said in a blog post just last week there were numerous “synergies that can exist between the crypto and the football worlds.” He also asked supporters to try and understand the benefits “before passing any judgment on LFE or the crypto industry.”
Sage, however, flew to London last week to address mounting concerns by meeting with Aylward in person. Aylward had promised Sage deals with the English Premier League, The New Daily says, but had been unable to explain how the Perth Glory acquisition would be funded.
Following his return, Sage advised the governing body Football Federation Australia (FFE) Monday night the acquisition deal was off.
It’s unclear whether Sage is still planning on taking up the position as LFE chairman.