U.S. interest in the English Premier League is at an all-time high following a pre-season tour of the country and the news that major broadcasting service NBC has secured the rights to show all 380 top flight games.
So it is no surprise to hear news of another MLS-EPL partnership. DC United announced on Friday they would be promoting their “friendly agreement” with Premier League team Sunderland to a full-blown partnership, which would allow the teams to share “expertise, benefit, and promotion” across the Atlantic.
News of the partnership follows the joint investment from Manchester City and the New York Yankees in the new MLS franchise – New York City FC – which has already acquired international talent by the likes of David Villa and Frank Lampard. The timing couldn’t be more perfect, with American soccer fans at an all-time peak thanks to the latest World Cup and a number of pre-season fixtures involving Premier League teams played across the U.S. that drew large crowds.
The most visible attraction was Manchester United’s tour, which attracted a total 360,000 fans to games against the Los Angeles Galaxy, Roma, Internazionale, Real Madrid, and Liverpool. The Real Madrid match alone attracted nearly a third of the total crowds. 109,318 fans traveled to the University of Michigan’s fabled “Big House” gridiron stadium to watch United win 3-2, a record for a soccer game in North America.
Arsenal, Tottenham, and Manchester City were other top British squads that played in the country this summer, which means a host of new international fans going into the new season which kicks off Saturday, August 16.
The DC United/Sunderland partnership is a good fit considering Sunderland’s owner, Ellis Short, is from Texas (one of the five American club owners/majority shareholders in the EPL) and Jozy Altidore, a member of the 2014 World Cup squad this summer, is a striker for the club.
In a statement, DC United’s chief operating officer Tom Hunt, said: “Through this partnership we look to share best practices on both the technical and commercial side, while also helping Sunderland increase its brand recognition in the nation’s capital and throughout the US.”
The MLS team’s statement concluded by noting the move as “another step forward in strengthening the warm relationship between the two cities”.
Sunderland’s commercial director Gary Hutchinson added: “This is a major step forward for Sunderland … and a really exciting development for us in the US market. We are continually looking at new ways to develop our international profile and our partnership with DC United will help us to build closer links with this key territory.”
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