FC Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur Look To Expand to the US
Spanish soccer giants FC Barcelona are one of seven groups to formally express interest in purchasing a MLS expansion team. Barca is working with Bolivian businessman Marcelo Claure--who owns the FC Bolivar in La Paz, Bolivia--to field an expansion team in Miami. The 14-league team is looking to add two more clubs in 2011 and right now the Catalan side appears to be one of the front runners.
Barca management believes they can succeed in Miami even though the MLS failed to catch on there in the past.
The Catalan club said it was already in negotiations with Florida International University to use its grounds in Miami for at least the first two years of the franchise's existence, the statement said.
Miami Fusion played in the MLS from 1998 to 2001 before losing its franchise.
The failure of the club to draw crowds has been blamed on the fact that its stadium was located in the nearby city of Fort Lauderdale instead of in Miami, which has a huge football-mad Latino community.
In addition to the Miami bid, the league accepted applications from groups in Atlanta, St. Louis, Montreal, Ottawa, Portland, and Vancouver (a bid that is said to involve NBA star Steve Nash).
The Barca bid wouldn't be the first time a European soccer power has invested in the US game. English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur recently announced a partnership with the San Jose Earthquakes of the MLS.
"The agreement will focus on football and commercial developments that will see the implementation of a best practice exchange programme," said a spokesman for the north London club when the partnership was announced yesterday.
MLS rules, with players franchised from the league, state that Tottenham cannot use the Earthquakes as a feeder club, however, they will be allowed to loan them players.
"This agreement with San Jose Earthquakes will provide us with an excellent opportunity to access a key region in a global market,'' said Spurs executive director Paul Barber.