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Atlanta United announces strategic partnership with Aberdeen FC

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Atlanta United ownership buys stake of Aberdeen FC and gains a seat on the board.

MLS: Atlanta United FC-Press Conference Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta United announced today its owner AMB Sports & Entertainment has purchased a stake of less than 10 percent of Scottish Premier League club Aberdeen FC and includes a board seat for Atlanta United President Darren Eales.

The deal is the foundation of a strategic partnership between the two clubs. Here is a copy of the press release, which includes a cool story about an Aberdeen native living in Atlanta who helped broker the deal.

ATLANTA (Nov. 24, 2019) – Atlanta United announced today that the club is entering into a strategic partnership with Scottish club Aberdeen FC (AFC) geared towards boosting soccer and commercial operations for both clubs.

The strategic partnership will serve to expand Atlanta United’s reach globally and will be an opportunity for both clubs to share knowledge and experience including player and youth development, fan experience and venue best practices. The partnership also has technical advantages by extending Atlanta United’s scouting network into a new region and allowing for a development pipeline between the clubs.

AMB Sports & Entertainment (AMBSE), parent company of Atlanta United, will have minority ownership in AFC with a less than 10% stake in the club and will have no operational involvement or day to day oversight responsibilities. As part of the partnership agreement, President of Atlanta United, Darren Eales, will join AFC’s Board of Directors.

AMBSE’s investment of £2million is part of a new package of investment in AFC totalling £5million, led by US based software entrepreneur Dave Cormack, a native of Aberdeen and current resident of Atlanta.

AFC announced yesterday that AFC Chairman Stewart Milne and other directors, are stepping down. Dave Cormack will become Chairman after the Club’s Annual General Meeting on December 16.

“We’re thrilled about this opportunity to partner with Aberdeen, a successful club with a long and proud history,” said Eales. “The partnership is a natural fit, with synergies both on and off the pitch. We share the same commitment to our fans, to our core values, community engagement and competitive results.

“We’re excited about what we can achieve together through a shared approach to soccer and commercial operations centered around mutual respect for AFC’s heritage and Atlanta United’s innovation and progressive strategy.

“While our focus will remain on Atlanta United day-to-day, we look forward to sharing our learnings with Aberdeen as they begin the process of planning and building a new venue and developing an exceptional fan experience as we have here at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.”

Cormack, an Atlanta United season ticket holder, has witnessed the club’s success in Atlanta and looks to foster collaboration between the two organizations.

“Atlanta United has record-breaking MLS attendances and season ticket sales, as well as the most successful fan engagement programme in Major League Soccer. We will be looking to learn from their experience, taking what works in Scotland, and applying it to improve our relationship with fans, create better match day experiences and develop potential sponsorships and other commercial initiatives that will generate revenues.”

This is a fascinating move from the club that appears extremely convenient for both sides. Both clubs will trade general best practices, but we can distill it into certain verticals that will be of particular interest to the two sides.

Aberdeen will be buoyed by AMBSE’s experience in building world class facilities including a new home stadium and state-of-the-art training ground. In March of this year, Aberdeen was given the green light by local authorities to begin construction of a new 20,000-seat stadium. Atlanta has also shown itself to be top class in its marketing, fan engagement and technology sectors, something Aberdeen can leverage hand-in-hand with the new stadium

Atlanta benefits in a multitude of ways, ranging from scouting and youth development practices, sport science findings, and even a partner for which players could be shared.

Around the world, soccer partnerships like these are growing more common. While it’s not to the level of a City Football Group or Red Bull level of majority ownership of multiple teams, it’s evident why even smaller-share investments between clubs can be hugely beneficial. These investments allow, in this case, a storied organization like Aberdeen FC to have financial security and business advantages in a rapidly-changing soccer landscape.

A press conference, including remarks by Darren Eales, will be held in Aberdeen on Monday, November 25 at 10:30am GMT. The press conference will be available to view online on ATLUTD.com at 8:30am EST.