Miami: Five-times European champions Bayern Munich, looking to take on English Premier League clubs and grab some of the growing market for soccer in the United States, have set up a U.S. registered company.
FC Bayern Munich LLC recently opened an office in New York and on Wednesday announced a partnership with a leading youth soccer organisation.
Bayern has teamed up with Massachusetts-headquartered Global Premier Soccer, which organises youth coaching and development programmes, and will provide assistance from coaches and technical staff from the Bundesliga club.
"This is the first of many initiatives we will be undertaking to foster a deeper connection with soccer fans in the United States," Rudolf Vidal, managing director of Bayern`s United States division, told Reuters.
Bayern toured the United States during the offseason this year and played against the Major League Soccer All-Stars.
"The Bayern Munich brand has become very well known in the last few years with the team reaching three Champions League finals in four years and the Champions League is the best soccer product in the U.S."
"We were also lucky to have seven Bayern players who became champions at the World Cup," he added, referring to Germany`s triumph in Brazil earlier this year.
The 24-times German champions already have launched a U.S. specific website and online store to help drive merchandise sales to American fans.
"We have done professional market research and found ... we have one million converted fans in the U.S. People who are not only interested but who are really focused and supporting Bayern Munich," said Vidal, who noted the large number of Americans with German ancestry provide another pool of potential fans.
The most committed Bayern fans are members of the 28 Bayern supporter clubs dotted around the United States, part of a growing trend of Americans `adopting` European clubs to support.
But while English clubs such as Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal have gained strong footholds in the United States along with Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid, Bundesliga teams have a less visible presence.
Vidal, however, believes that will change when a television deal kicks in next season and Bundesliga games will move from the sometimes hard to find cable channel Gol TV to the more mainstream Fox Sports network.
"That is so important, sometimes people would ask where can I see the Bundesliga. That is going to change. Fox have made a huge commitment to the Bundesliga," said Vidal.