Chelsea have announced a long-term partnership with the owner of four Major League Soccer (MLS) clubs which will involve the English champions playing in a biennial tournament in the United States.
Chief executive Peter Kenyon said in New York on Wednesday that Chelsea would enter into a strategic alliance with Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG).
AEG owns the Chicago Fire, Houston Dynamo, D.C. United and MLS champions the Los Angeles Galaxy.
The group is also involved in the development of stadiums, including The Home Depot Center in Los Angeles and venues under construction in Bridgeview, Illinois and Harrison, New Jersey.
Chelsea said the relationship would begin in the European summer of 2007 with the staging of a tournament every two years involving the London club and a host MLS team.
The alliance will also include a club-to-club relationship between Chelsea and LA Galaxy, an agreement to enhance and market the Chelsea brand in the United States and promotion of grass-roots football activity.
"This is a unique, ground-breaking relationship that not only demonstrates our commitment to the development of US soccer but will also help Chelsea work towards its aim of becoming the most popular European club in the US, one of our key target markets," said Kenyon in a statement.
Timothy Leiweke, president and CEO of AEG, said: "This alliance will clearly help to continue soccer's tremendous growth in North America through our joint promotional efforts as well as the staging of meaningful competitions between Chelsea and the best of the MLS."
Chelsea said the alliance would cover programmes and exchanges on young players, as well as medical and coaching matters. Chelsea described it as the first of its kind by a top European club with one of the leading forces in US soccer.
Five years ago, Manchester United set up a marketing arrangement with iconic US baseball franchise the New York Yankees, but it has remained low-key.
Source: China Daily