A Dubai start-up is allowing people to own signed memorabilia from their favourite footballers – including Pele, Messi and Neymar – with a technology-backed guarantee of authenticity.
The BootRoom Collection, which was started by British Dubai expats Craig McKelvie and Graeme Henderson – works with two well-known suppliers in the UK to source signed memorabilia from players.
“This is about a passion for football. I’ve had that from an early age, and I’ve also worked in retail,” McKelvie told Arabian Business. “There was nothing going on at the time in terms of sports memorabilia. It was the right time to put the two together.”
A QR code on the product allows customers to use their smartphones to see photographs of video of the moment the footballer signs the product. An example posted to the BootRoom collection website, for example, shows former Manchester United striker Eric Cantona signing shirts.
According to Henderson, it is this authenticity that he believes separates the BootRoom collection from other online vendors of sports memorabilia.
“That’s the one thing we want to trade on, the authenticity of the brand,” he said. “There is a lot of stuff on the market, on eBay for example, but that doesn’t have a certificate of authenticity. We’ve got these mega stars, like Ronaldo and Messi, but the point of difference is that we can show you that the item was signed a [certain] time, date and place.”
Currently, the BootRoom focuses on football shirts, although it also offers signed photographs and boots from some of the world’s best known former and current players from teams including FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea, as well as international squads such as Brazil and Portugal.
According to McKelvie and Henderson, framed shirts are priced between AED 2,700 and AED 5,000, while framed images cost between AED 2,000 and AED 10,000. Framed boots are priced between AED 2,500 and AED 4,000.
“We wanted to make sure [the memorabilia] is accessible to customers throughout the Middle East,” McKelvie said. “We’ve seen items in the UAE for AED 18,000 to AED 20,000, but the products came from the same places ours come from.”
Looking to the future, Henderson said he believes that the BootRoom collection will soon branch out to include memorabilia from sports besides football.
“We do see ourselves moving into different sports. The inevitable question is about American sports. Lots of people here are fans of the NFL, or have their favourite basketball players,” he said. “Our product will move with what the demand is in the region. We’ve got the cricket world cup coming up soon, and expect there will be some demand there.”
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