Darren Eales, executive director of English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur, was named Wednesday as president of Major League Soccer’s Atlanta expansion team which is set for its maiden campaign in 2017.
The 42-year-old Englishman, the Ivy League Player of the Year in 1994 as a forward at Brown University, will serve in a transition period with Spurs until joining the US club later this year.
Eales, a former lawyer and director for Premier League side West Bromich Albion, played a key role in negotiating last year’s world record transfer fee sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid and was involved in deals that brought Robbie Keane, Clint Dempsey and Jermain Defoe to MLS as well as sent US player DeAndre Yedlin to Tottenham.
“Soccer is a lifetime passion of mine and to have the chance to come to Atlanta and build a club from the ground up is extremely exciting,” Eales said.
“I’m going to have the rare experience of getting to know the fans from the outset and I’m eager to engage them in the process, from naming the team to creating an incredible atmosphere at our matches.”
The Atlanta team, the 22nd MLS club, is owned by NFL Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank and will play in a stadium set to be completed in 2017.
Expansion clubs in New York and Orlando will join MLS next year while a tentative Miami franchise with former England star David Beckham among the owners is awaiting a stadium deal.
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