Chelsea links with Disney to expand global image

English Premier League club Chelsea sealed a four-year partnership with the Walt Disney Company before its first pre-season fixture in the Disney Friendship Cup against Club America, which the Blues won 2-1. The deal gives Chelsea access to Disney's youth soccer program and its Florida-based sports theme park and maximum exposure to young American soccer fans. Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex is a top youth soccer event destination, while Disney's Soccer Showcase is the number one youth soccer event in the US. Chelsea will also have a significant presence at other Disney-created soccer events through coaching and player clinics.

"Chelsea is committed to assisting and promoting all levels of soccer in the US and youth soccer is a massive part of that. Disney is at the forefront of that movement in the US," Chelsea spokesman Paul Smith said as quoted by the New Paper. "Disney have penetration and a reach to a market that is really targeted at that young fan. A lot of people in our sector have eyed Disney as being in some way a target but we've been able to make that first step."

Chelsea is reportedly set to announce a paid-for membership program, specifically tailored for the US. "The intention is to broaden the appeal of Chelsea worldwide," said Smith. "We have looked at targeting specific countries to maximise the visibility we get naturally from the Premier League and Champions League, and have looked to focus on North America and China. The aim is to encourage followers of the sport in general to translate into Chelsea fans," added Smith.