While Bitcoin podcaster Peter McCormack is known to many for his fervent – often argumentative – views, there is another passion which has been burning inside him for decades with a greater fire than the power of the original cryptocurrency.
Despite regularly appearing all-consumed by Bitcoin, the one thing that holds more value in his heart is his home town of Bedford.
This curious obsession, perhaps difficult to appreciate among those not associated with ‘the jewel in Bedfordshire’s crown’, manifested itself in the most surprising way over the last few days when McCormack declared he was buying his local football club – Bedford FC.
A successful Bitcoin investor grabbing control of a football club may have swiftly raised a few eyebrows, but the out-of-the-blue purchase failed to surprise one person at least – McCormack himself.
“If you spoke to my dad, he’d tell you I’d been talking about this since I was 14,” he smiles, nodding slightly in acknowledgement of his own admission.
“Seriously, this is something I’ve always wanted to do since I was a kid. I’ve always thought Bedford is a great place, and the football club just has something special about it – like a sleeping giant.”
Some minor paperwork loose ends need to be tied up, but when the signatures have dried, McCormack’s crypto-fuelled purchase – for an undisclosed fee – will mark a very significant moment for football, for cryptocurrency, and for Bedford itself.
Listening to his boyish enthusiasm for what amounts to a monumental undertaking is mildly infectious. This acquisition has elements that reach much further than the car park of McMullen Park – its association with Bitcoin now carries the potential to transform Bedford FC into a global brand.
Despite the enthusiasm, and the cliched headlines heralding unspoken dreams of the Premier League, there’s a comfortingly sober atmosphere of realistic achievement around the plans.
McCormack understands the difficulties that lay ahead – not least the reoccurring resentment towards cryptocurrency and the nefarious things people associate with it.
“We’re going to get mixed in with the crypto things that are happening – people lump all cryptocurrencies together, rather than separate Bitcoin from them,” he says.
“It’s very important to separate conversations about Bitcoin from all those other things, and many people don’t understand it. But they have to want to understand it.
“I have a fundamental belief in what I’m doing, so I’m going to do it anyway, although I do expect a backlash.”
Helping with that understanding is high up on his ‘to-do’ list with the football club – he already has ideas to create education workshops and community learning opportunities.
“Anybody who wants to learn about Bitcoin will be able to do so through the club,” he explains, adding there would be no expectation for staff and players to need to accept Bitcoin as payment.
“Only if they want – we’re not forcing this on anyone.”
In terms of how much could be raised to elevate the club from its current berth in Division One of the Spartan South Midlands Football League, McCormack doesn’t hold back.
“My target is to raise £50m – an eyewatering amount,” he offers without hesitation.
“I want to leave a legacy for the town of Bedford in the form of a big football club. We want to create an investment that can sit in a treasury and be worth significantly more than it was in several years’ time with a multi-year strategy.
“This should be a blueprint for how we treat money. We live in a world of credit and debt, Bitcoin is a solution.”
Make no mistake, McCormack’s ambitions shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand as a money-to-spare dreamer with fanciful ideas of putting a tick on a bucket list of life-long ambitions. The Bedford native has even been blown away by the interest shown from potential backers.
“When I went to see investors about the project, I said the goal was to get in the football league, they asked what would it need to get to the Premier League!” he laughed.
“Of course, I would love to have a Premier League club, I don’t know if that’s possible, I don’t know if could happen.”
Instead, he sees the short-term goals as being a priority towards building for the long-term.
“There are three key things to achieve in order to make this a success,” he says.
“Firstly, we need a sustainable club without debt – Bitcoin will help us do that.
“Secondly, we need to aim to get the club into the Football League – that will be a big achievement and, every year, our target has to be promotion.
“And, we also have to focus on the local community. This is a community project, but also a global project through Bitcoin.”
Bitcoin, as with many aspects of Peter McCormack’s public life, is the overriding force behind the acquisition of Bedford FC. Without it, it would most likely not have provided the means for a Bedford lad to purchase his hometown club. With it, he has not only acquired the club, he has also flicked the switch on several powerful spotlights and illuminated Bedford, football, finances and Bitcoin itself.
“We’re living in a time of high inflation. Inflation is very sinister. It impacts lives, it destroys savings and pay rises. This has come from irresponsible economic management,” he concludes with typical unvarnished bluntness.
“Bitcoin is not about irresponsible finances. We want to build a club with responsible finances – a club with no debt, and a way of investing in the local community.
“We’re building a whole business here.”