Australian League Baseball club Perth Heat to pay players in bitcoins | Baseball


Australian League Baseball club Perth Heat will pay its players in bitcoin, after partnering with a cryptocurrency payment company in a deal it says is a world first for the professional sport.

Heat players and staff will be able to be paid in bitcoin starting Friday, while the club are also expected to accept bitcoin payments for sponsorships, merchandise and stadium concessions on match days.

“This is the first time that a sports club has decided to bet on a bitcoin standard,” club CEO Steven Nelkovski told Guardian Australia.

Bitcoin payments were not mandatory, Nelkovski said, but all current club employees agreed with the program.

If a player wishes to opt out, they can still be paid in the traditional way, with their salary transferred to Australian dollars and sent to their bank account like any other direct debit process. There is also the possibility of being partially paid in bitcoin and traditional dollars.

“We give players the freedom to decide what is best for their unique situation,” said Nelkovski. “The whole process is very similar to the traditional payment process with an additional variable that is how much of their salary they want to keep in bitcoin.”

Nelkovski said the deal did not need to be ratified by Baseball Australia, which backed the move. BA, the national governing body for the game, has been contacted for comment.

A new Chief Bitcoin Officer position has been created by the club – filled by Patrick O’Sullivan – to facilitate the new operation and shift of “corporate treasury” from dollar to cryptocurrency.

“This is not a one-time purchase to hedge against future uncertainties or inflationary pressures,” O’Sullivan said. “The Perth Heat embrace the reality that the future of corporate money and cash will live on the bitcoin blockchain.”

In a team statement, the Heat claimed they were the first professional sports club in the world to “fully embrace bitcoin and the Lightning Network for accepting payments and payroll for staff and players.”

Several American sports stars are known to have chosen to trade some or all of their salary for bitcoin, but these payments were initiated by the players themselves, rather than from top to bottom.

The Heat are one of Australia’s most successful baseball clubs and have won four ABL Championships since the league’s formation in 2010.

Nelkovski said he believes the sponsorship deal will allow the organization to reach new levels of success both on and off the pitch.

“We strongly believe that the mindset that bitcoin conveys to network participants will be felt by our players, coaches, staff and our loyal fan base,” said Nelkovski.

The ABL 2021-22 season, which was originally scheduled to start on Thursday of this week, was canceled last month for the second year in a row due to disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.


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