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Arsenal link up with Colorado Rapids

February 10, 2007 09:40 IST

Arsenal became the latest Premier League club to forge ties across the Atlantic when they announced a new partnership with Major League Soccer (MLS) club Colorado Rapids on Friday.

The deal with Kroenke Sports Enterprises (KSE), owners of Colorado, was made with the main aim of building Arsenal's brand in the US, helping to improve the quality of football at the Rapids and supporting grassroots football in North America.

It will also include the development of a Centre of Excellence in Colorado, the transfer of coaching ideas and the launch of the Arsenal Cup, a club tournament open to teams from all over the U.S.

"This is a very important step for Arsenal as this becomes our first venture into the United States marketplace," managing director Keith Edelman told the club's Web site (

"We are approaching this as a long term development partnership that will benefit both clubs significantly."

Edelman's views were echoed by Rapids managing director Jeff Plush.

"This groundbreaking partnership with one of the stepping stones to continue pushing our sport on to the next level," said Plush.

"In today's international business community, soccer is the only true global sport that transcends ethnicity, culture and language and with this type of relationship we are making sure our company is expanding this vision."


American billionaire Stan Kroenke, a property magnate, is the man behind KSE.

The deal comes just days after the takeover of Liverpool by American tycoons George Gillet and Tom Hicks, and represents an increasing trend of American businessmen buying into English football.

Manchester United and Aston Villa are also owned by American business tycoons.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger dismissed the idea the deal was a takeover.

"Unless I am completely naive it is not a takeover," Wenger told reporters. "I have never heard about a possible takeover and I don't think that is at all behind our partnership."

Wenger said the link-up might help Arsenal recruit new young players.

"We develop a few partnerships sometimes with football schools and sometimes with clubs," said the Frenchman. "We are trying to extend our brand.

"We are also trying to extend our technical cooperation because the Americans might produce some players at some stage and that's why we are doing it. We are always trying to develop young players."

The Rapids will come to London to use Arsenal's facilities for six days while they continue training ahead of the MLS season which starts in April.

Arsenal are involved in various other partnerships, notably with the Belgian club Beveren and an academy set up in the Ivory Coast.

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