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Volume 7 No. 65

Franchises

Left to right: Bayern Munich's Rudolf Vidal, FC Dallas' Clark Hunt, Bayern's Uli Hoeneß, FC Dallas' Dan Hunt and Bayern's Jörg Wacker
Photo: FC Bayern

Bayern Munich and Major League Soccer side FC Dallas signed a comprehensive player development partnership, the first unaffiliated European and MLS clubs to do so, according to Thomas & Everett of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. 

The partnership, which was formally unveiled on Tuesday, will see the two clubs come together to exchange talent, allowing young players to work with coaches and scouts from both organizations in either country. The "goal for FC Dallas is clear -- to improve its talent base." In December, three players from FC Dallas traveled to Munich to take part in a 10-day training camp alongside Bayern Munich academy players. Coaches will also look to exchange expertise, as well as organize matches between youth players from each club in the two countries.

While City Football Group and Red Bull have "built similar pipelines" between their ownership of European and int'l clubs and their stakes in their respective MLS clubs -- New York City FC and the New York Red Bulls -- no other MLS club has an "expansive player development partnership with a European club."

Bayern's Thomas Müller (left) meets FC Dallas Chair Clark Hunt
Photo: FC Bayern

There is no financial component of the deal, according to both sides, and while there is no specific commercial initiative attached to it either, FC Dallas President Dan Hunt said there is room for the partnership to evolve.

Hunt said the deal is set for a defined number of years with options to extend it, but he declined to comment on the details.

"The agreement wasn’t based on 'just give us your partner list,'" Hunt said. "Our focus here is on developing young players, and I think this is going to produce better soccer players not only for FC Dallas but our youth national team as well."

Discussions around a potential partnership date back several years to '14, when Bayern Munich first opened its office in New York, becoming the first European club to do so. Talks intensified last year at the Super Bowl in Houston, where Bayern Munich President of the Americas Rudolf Vidal and Clark and Dan Hunt discussed the idea. Both of the Hunts traveled to Munich last week to visit the club and its offices, including the Bayern Campus, a 74-acre academy that opened in Aug. '17, as well as attend the Bayern-Schalke 04 match at Allianz Arena.

Bayern Munich has placed an emphasis on supporting youth football since its arrival in the U.S., including a partnership with Global Premier Soccer, which it extended in '17. The club shares its coaching philosophy and curriculum through the organization, which to date is used at more than 101 football clubs in over 22 states, reaching more than 90,000 youth players.

"It is important for us to help the sport continue to grow and help develop players and do things at the grassroots level," Vidal said. "Now we’re going to the next step and working at this elite level and will be able to help these young players on the pathway to professional football" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 2/12 issue).

SHARED PHILOSOPHIES: Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told SBD Global of the deal, "We are delighted to announce this landmark partnership with FC Dallas. Since opening our office in the United States, our goal was to work with a Major League Soccer club, enhancing player development both at home and in North America. FC Dallas is the perfect partner at this elite level as we share the same philosophy when it comes to our youth development. We are both committed to providing the best environment, training and competition in order to produce players for the first team and beyond. The launch of our state-of-the-art academy last year cemented our continued dedication to player development and we are pleased that we will be able to share the facility with FC Dallas players as we embark upon this new partnership" (Tyler Everett, SBD Global).

A "key benefactor" is donating A$10M ($7.8M) to Australian Football League side Hawthorn to "help the club fund the shift" to its new Dingley HQ, according to Jake Niall of THE AGE. In "one of the most generous gifts in AFL history," former Hawthorn VP and Flight Centre co-Founder Geoff Harris committed a A$10M donation to the Dingley project for what the businessman called "seeding capital" for the new project. The A$10M is being paid over five years. Harris’ family has already donated A$6M ($4.7M), with payments of A$2M made in '15, '16 and '17, respectively. The Hawks have to raise tens of millions for Dingley -- club sources estimated the eventual cost will be A$80M-A$100M ($62.8M-$78.5M) -- in what "shapes as arguably the competition’s most ambitious fund-raising program," as the club plans to make the move from Waverley Park to the "much more spacious" Dingley training and administrative base (THE AGE, 2/13).

Premier League side West Bromwich Albion sacked Chair John Williams "as the pressure builds" on Manager Alan Pardew, with the club "facing a huge battle" to save its Premier League life, according to John Percy of the London TELEGRAPH. Williams and CEO Martin Goodman were dismissed by Chinese Owner Guochuan Lai as the club took "ruthless action over the Midlanders' poor position." Pardew's job is "safe despite the head coach picking up only one league win since his appointment," though his methods and management are understood to be "causing some friction within the squad." But Lai, the controlling shareholder, took "brutal action in the boardroom, in a bid to galvanise West Brom" with its eight-year existence as a Premier League club "hanging in the balance." It is five points behind second-to-last place Stoke City and Lai is believed to be "deeply frustrated" with decisions made by Williams, who was appointed as chair in Aug. '16 (TELEGRAPH, 2/13). The BBC's Simon Stone reported Mark Jones was named the club's new CEO. Jenkins had previously been CEO of the club for 10 years before leaving in Nov. '16, "with Goodman taking over from him." However, Jenkins recently returned to the Hawthorns as a director of WBA Holdings, the club's controlling company. He said, "There is much to do but for now the focus must solely be on the remaining games of this season" (BBC, 2/13). In London, Martyn Ziegler reported Williams was "informed of his sacking" in a phone call from Jenkins. Williams said, "It is an odd feeling, it's certainly unusual. We had gone through a managerial change but it's a results-based game and I accept my part in that. As top of the managerial tree, you have to take responsibility. It has been a challenging job but I felt we had done well in the time I was here until this season, and I have enjoyed it" (LONDON TIMES, 2/13).