Aberdeen FC and Atlanta United enter into Strategic Partnership

Aberdeen Football Club and Atlanta United are entering into a strategic partnership that is geared towards boosting football and commercial operations for both Clubs.


AMB Sports & Entertainment (the parent company of Atlanta United) is investing GBP£2m into Aberdeen Football Club (AFC) as part of a new package of investment, led by Dave Cormack, totalling GBP£5m. This will provide working capital for the Club’s day to day operations.


As part of Atlanta’s investment and the partnership arrangement, Darren Eales, the President of the Major League Soccer Club and former Executive Director of Tottenham Hotspur, will join AFC’s Board of Directors.


AFC Chairman, Stewart Milne, said:

The new investment and this partnership are very much welcomed and justify our decision to implement the succession plans at this juncture. Dave has identified and brought together a group of investors who are, not just providing money but also, fresh-thinking and learning to the Club. I’d like to thank Dave for taking on the Chairman’s role with the passion and commitment required to realise our vision and rise to the increasing challenges facing Scottish football.


It was announced yesterday that Stewart Milne, along with other directors are stepping down. Dave Cormack will become Chairman after the Club’s AGM on 16th of December.


Cormack said:

This collaboration between our Clubs will deliver economies of scale by aligning both clubs on key football and business operation best practice. It will include shared agreement on worldwide player identification, assessment, recruitment and development. For example, we will be able to tap into their impressive scouting network across South America and, in return, we can assist them with identifying and assessing players in Europe.


But it’s not just a collaboration that will benefit AFC’s on-the-pitch operation. There will also be mutually beneficial commercial synergies.


Cormack added:

Atlanta United has record-breaking MLS attendances and season ticket sales, as well as the most successful fan engagement programme in Major League Soccer. We will be looking to learn from their experience, taking what works in Scotland, and applying it to improve our relationship with fans, create better match day experiences and develop potential sponsorships and other commercial initiatives that will generate revenues.


The new investment, which comes with this partnership, will put the Club on a firmer financial footing over the next few years which, Cormack says, is absolutely critical as they strive to meet the future challenges, continue to invest in the football operation and raise funds for the new stadium.


Darren Eales led the development of the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground – a US$60m training facility that opened in 2017 and is widely considered one of the best facilities in North America. He also spearheaded the club’s transition into its new home, the 70,000-seater Mercedes-Benz Stadium, a world-class multi-use sports and entertainment complex.


Atlanta United President, Darren Eales, led the development of the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground – a US$60m training facility that opened in 2017 – and also spearheaded the club’s transition into its new home, the 70,000-seater Mercedes-Benz Stadium, a world-class multi-use sports and entertainment complex. Image, courtesy: Mercedes-Benz Stadium


Eales said:

We’re thrilled about this opportunity to partner with Aberdeen, a successful club with a long and proud history. The partnership is a natural fit, with synergies both on and off the pitch.  We share the same commitment to our fans, our core values, community engagement and competitive results.


We’re excited about what we can, together, achieve through a shared approach to football and commercial operations. This will be centred around mutual respect for AFC’s heritage and long footballing history and Atlanta’s innovation and progressive strategy. Together, we believe we can make an impact on supporting and driving both clubs and the wider game on both sides of the Atlantic.


AFC Manager Derek McInnes welcomes the partnership. He said:

I’ve visited Atlanta United and witnessed first-hand their impressive facilities and approach to matters both on and off the pitch. I am really encouraged by their desire to work with us and look forward to forging greater relations with our colleagues in the MLS. Having got to know the people from the Atlanta, in particular Darren Eales and Carlos Boganegra, I’m confident that we’ll be working with good people who share similar views on how this relationship can help both clubs going forward.


We want to continue to be a competitive force in Scottish football and will now be in a position to further develop our player recruitment strategies, tapping into markets which otherwise may have been hard to navigate in terms of player identification. Similarly, we are fortunate to have a Youth Academy with a mature strategy and have benefitted from a number of young players progressing through the ranks to feature for the first team. Our experience in this field, developing and nurturing young talent, will be key to this relationship as we share best practice.


About Darren Eales

British-born Eales played for Cambridge United FC in England before moving to the US on a soccer scholarship, playing for West Virginia University and Brown University, where he was named Ivy League Player of the Year and NSCAA 1st Team All-American. When injuries cut short his professional playing career, Eales returned to England and earned a MA in Law at Cambridge University. In 2000, he qualified as a barrister specialising in sports law.


Eales served as in-house legal counsel, director and club secretary at West Bromwich Albion Football Club before joining Tottenham in 2010, where he touched on all major aspects of football operations during his four-year tenure. He helped to negotiate and execute player transfers, including playing a key role in the 2013 world record transfer fee sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid. He was a Premier League representative on the FA Professional Game Board and Chairman of the FA Cup Committee.


As the first President of Atlanta United, Eales led the club in its record-breaking 2017 inaugural campaign, widely considered one of the most accomplished seasons in MLS history, and also led the club to its historic 2018 MLS Cup Championship title in only its second season. In addition to assembling the club’s front office and the development and integration of the club’s brand identity, Eales led its on-field progression, hiring integral members to join the technical staff, including Vice President and Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra. Honoring his accomplishments, the World Football Summit named Eales the Best Executive of the Year in 2019.


About Atlanta United

Atlanta United joined Major League Soccer in 2017 and won the 2018 MLS Cup in just its second season, the earliest an expansion team has won the title since 1998. The club has set multiple league records including season tickets sales (36,000-plus), single-game attendance (72,548), single-season average (53,002) and total home attendance (901,033). Owned by Arthur M. Blank, and led by club President Darren Eales, Atlanta United plays its home matches at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.


About AMB Sports & Entertainment (AMBSE)

AMB Sports & Entertainment is a subsidiary of AMB Group LLC, and is comprised of the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons, Major League Soccer’s Atlanta United and Mercedes-Benz Stadium.


Source & images, courtesy: AFC




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