Blackburn Rovers are set to secure a slice of the action in the Big Apple!
The club have reached an agreement with New York-based Eastern FC, who will become Rovers’ first partner club in the United States.
The announcement comes alongside the news that Rovers have developed key partnerships on a global scale, which will enhance the club’s recruitment strategy and status overseas.
Rovers’ Head of Academy, Stuart Jones, was instrumental in securing the link-up with Eastern FC, whose highly-qualified coaches have been developing young players in the States since 1977.
Jones believes the deal will have mutual benefits for both clubs, in terms of sharing experiences and expertise, as well as helping to build the Blackburn Rovers brand in a flourishing football market.
“Eastern FC are based on the outskirts of New York and are run by a guy called Ray Franklin, who moved over there from Liverpool about 40 years ago,” he said.
“Ray came over to the UK on a tour a few years ago and asked if they could come in to have a look at our facilities and play a game against one of our youth teams.
“We have kept in contact ever since – sharing knowledge and ideas – and earlier this year I went over to meet Ray and the coaching team over there and the concept of having a partner club was discussed.
“It’s another new market for us, where there is plenty of talented players. The MLS is getting bigger, the game of soccer is growing and so we see it as a real opportunity.
“We’ve spoken about the possibility of Eastern FC putting on a pro tournament over there, with a lot of the youth MLS clubs and our Under-18s or Under-16s could potentially form part of that. We can develop key camps and programmes that will benefit both Rovers and Eastern FC.
“We will share the resources we have in our programme, our sessions, our coaching philosophy and how we work. It’s a case of giving them some ideas and them sharing their experiences with us.
“Ultimately, it’s about growing the brand of the football club in another part of the world and working closely with Eastern FC, who have a fantastic youth system for developing players.
“It’s an exciting opportunity where we can grow together and develop things for the football club, not just for the Academy. I see real commercial opportunities as well as football opportunities.
“There is also the recruitment element, because we don’t have the resources out on the other side of the world, so it’s an opportunity to identify potential talent to come into the football club as well, which is important.
“The partnership also allows us to develop links with universities and colleges in the USA, where Eastern FC can help us identify potential scholarships for some of our Under-18s who don’t get offered professional contracts and are interested in playing in the USA.
“This is now becoming more of an option for young players and provides a fantastic exit strategy for us to support those players who leave our Academy system.”