Chelsea to China and USA to become 'World No 1'

English Premier League club Chelsea is targeting North America and Asia as key markets for fan potential and business expansion. "Chelsea's vision is by 2014 to become internationally recognised as the world's No 1 football club" and "we intend to meet it," club CEO, Peter Kenyon told delegates to the World Congress of Sport in New York yesterday.

"Beyond London and in common with other top clubs we identified North America and Asia, specifically China, as key markets for fan potential and business expansion," Kenyon explained. "Ours is not a take the money and run philosophy. By building the profile and interest in Chelsea we are confident we can expand our business and build a platform for increasing our fan base, merchandising and sponsorship opportunities."

Chelsea used the opportunity to announce a new "strategic alliance" with American entertainment and sports company AEG, the owners of the Millennium Dome and four US Major League Soccer clubs, LA Galaxy, Chicago Fire, DC United and Houston 1836.

The deal includes a new pre-season tournament in Los Angeles starting next summer and to be held every two years and a specific alliance between Chelsea and LA Galaxy to exchange young players as well as medical and coaching expertise.

According to David Bond in The Telegraph, Chelsea is not the first English club to target America as a growing football market. He noted that Kenyon was the chief executive of Manchester United when the club began touring the United States and set up their marketing partnership with the New York Yankees baseball team.

But Kenyon described the New York Yankees-Manchester United partnership as "about awareness and positioning" while the Chelsea-AEG deal is a "deeper relationship."

See also: Chelsea for partnering not exploiting Asian football (2 Mar).