Thursday, October 16, 2008

Barcelona make MLS franchise bid

Barcelona's Lionel Messi
Barcelona want a base in Miami - which lost its last MLS franchise in 2001

Barcelona have lodged a Major League Soccer franchise bid in a joint venture with a Bolivian-born entrepreneur.

With the MLS set to add two teams to its league for the 2011 season, Barca have linked up with Marcelo Claure to produce a bid for the city of Miami.

The MLS has received six other bids with Atlanta, Portland, St Louis, Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver also submitting franchise proposals.

If chosen, Barca would become the first MLS team owned by a European club.

Claure owns Bolivia's FC Bolivar, with whom Barcelona already collaborate.

"This is a very important day in our club's 109-year history," said Barcelona president Joan Laporta in Miami.

"This is an opportunity to penetrate the US market. We are a global brand and it is important to be present in the American market and in the sport in America.

"We needed to find the right partner and the right place and we have done so in Marcelo Claure and Miami."

Miami had an MLS team, the Fusion, between 1998 and 2001 but they played in neighbouring Fort Lauderdale and lost their slot when they league contracted in size.

MLS currently has 14 teams with Seattle due to join in 2009 and Philadelphia in 2010.

The league plans to add two more sides for the 2011 season although the Miami bid has asked to join a year earlier.

George Gillett, owner of the NHL's Montreal Canadiens and joint owner of Liverpool, is part of the ownership group for the Montreal franchise bid.

The owner of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons Arthur Blank is behind the bid from the Georgia state capital while Canadian NBA player Steve Nash, of the Phoenix Suns, has teamed up with businessman Greg Kerfoot in Vancouver's bid.

Original here

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