(Left) Mike Millay Director Disney Sports Events and (Right) Paul Smith Director Chelsea Business Affairs
STANFORD, Calif., July 14, 2007 - Chelsea Football Club is teaming up with the world's leading entertainment company, The Walt Disney Company, in a long-term agreement.
The partnership with Disney's Wide World of Sports® was announced by leading executives from both companies at a press conference today ahead of the Disney Friendship Cup in Stanford between Chelsea FC and Club America.
"This partnership is groundbreaking for both sides. Chelsea is delighted to be partnering with Disney on this second project, following the sponsorship of today's game. Chelsea is committed to assisting and promoting all levels of soccer in the United States and youth soccer is a massive part of that. Disney is at the forefront of that movement in the U.S. on various levels." said Chelsea Business Affairs Director Paul Smith.
Under the terms of the four-year agreement, Chelsea becomes the Official Professional Soccer Club of Disney's Wide World of Sports® and presenting sponsor of the Disney Soccer Showcase Series.
As a result, Chelsea will be associated with the top youth soccer event destination, Disney's Wide World of Sports® Complex, and the number one youth soccer event in the United States, Disney's Soccer Showcase.
Chelsea will also have significant presence at other Disney created soccer events through coaching and player clinics which will be held in association with some of the events. These will be run under the guidance of Chelsea's Football in the Community scheme.
An annual educational exchange program will also be created where at least one Chelsea Soccer Academy team will visit and compete at Disney's Wide World of Sports® Complex.
In exchange, Chelsea will bring a winning team from a selected Disney soccer tournament to be their guests at a Chelsea match and train at their Soccer Academy which is rapidly gaining international renown as one of the leading academies in the world.
The announcement is the first stage in a possible broader partnership between the two companies.
Further talks are planned to see how Chelsea can work with the various entertainment and media brands within Disney.
"To align ourselves with Chelsea FC, which is recognized as one of the most popular soccer clubs in the world, will not only confirm the position of the Disney Soccer Showcase as the premiere youth soccer tournament in the United States, but now makes it an absolute must tournament for youth soccer players everywhere," said Mike Millay, Director of Sports at the Walt Disney World® Resort. "We look forward to a long and rewarding relationship with Chelsea. Their involvement with our events will provide a phenomenal guest experience for the thousands of young soccer players through interactions with one of the leading soccer academies in the world."
The agreement represents Disney Sports' most significant alliance with an international sports organization to date, further cementing Disney's Wide World of Sports® as the preeminent venue for amateur and professional sports in the world.
Chelsea, widely regarded as one of the world's most famous soccer clubs, will join the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Major League Baseball's Atlanta Braves and NBA's Orlando Magic, among other organizations, who have trained at Disney's Wide World of Sports® Complex.
The club, who celebrated their 100-year anniversary in 2005, has been the most successful in English soccer in the last three years and has some of the world's top stars on its roster including England captain John Terry, Ivory Coast captain Didier Drogba and Germany captain Michael Ballack.
The agreement also continues the Chelsea business strategy of partnering with blue chip brands in particular areas and follows long-term agreements with their official sponsors.
Disney's Wide World of Sports® Complex, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in March, is the leading sports venue for amateur and professional sports in the world with more than 180 events annually involving more than 30 different sports.
Among the annual events are Atlanta Braves Spring Training, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Training Camp, the NBA Pre-Draft Camp, the MLB Draft, the Old Spice Classic college basketball tournament, the Pop Warner Super Bowl and several AAU National Championship events. In May, the complex hosted the first-ever three-game regular-season Major League Baseball series in Central Florida (Tampa Bay Devil Rays vs. Texas Rangers), and in 2006 the complex was one of the host sites for the inaugural World Baseball Classic.
To meet the growing demand for elite events at the complex, Disney's Wide World of Sports is expanding the facility in summer 2008 with the construction of the Jostens Center, a multi-sport field house that will double the complex's ability to stage indoor events.