When a 112-year-old Polish football club with 13 national championship titles teetered dangerously close to bankruptcy, its fans stepped in with funding.
Wisla Krakow supporters became equity investors, saving their beloved team and boosting an emerging niche capital market in the process.
They drummed up 4 million zloty (S$1.4 million) between 9,129 investors who bought 40,000 shares in less than two days earlier this year, using the Beesfund crowdfunding platform.
The fast-track fundraising has attracted other sports teams to the platform, said Beesfund chief executive officer Arkadiusz Regiec.
The clubs are adding to Beesfund’s roster of clients, which before Wisla’s fan-led revival included restaurants, information technology start-ups and independent breweries typical of crowdfunding operators abroad.
Beesfund estimates it may help to raise as much as 80 million zloty this year, bolstered by demand from sports teams and in contrast to a persistent lull in initial public offerings on the Warsaw Stock Exchange.
“Crowdfunding should allow to us to escape this grim time we’re experiencing in Poland’s capital market,” Regiec said in an e-mail.
“It’s a chance for people to become shareholders in businesses they understand, without intermediaries. This seems to be attractive, even if we offer pretty high-risk investments.”